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KIRSCH, Gerald J.
|Tribune-Democrat, 22 Feb 2002, Contributed by Lisa Baker|
|Name:||KIRSCH, Gerald J.|
|Death Date:||19 Feb 2002|
|Spouse:||(1) Mary Grace Bearer; (2) Marian L. Westrick|
|Preceded in death by:||1st wife|
|Survived by:||Children - Mary Jean, Phillip, Jeffrey, Alton, Charlene; siblings - Camilla Wolf, Lucille Hoover, Florentz, Anna Mae Knechtel, Ruth Born, Richard, James, Max, Vincent, Timothy; 8 grandchildren; 1 great-granddaughter; numerous nieces & nephews|
|Obituary Date:||22 Feb 2002|
|Contributed by:||Lisa Baker|
|Remarks:|| BUILDER PUT SAINT ON STRUCTURES
By Ruth Rice
Gerald J. Kirsch of Northern Cambria, who founded Kirsch Construction, died Tuesday at UPMC Lee Regional, Johnstown. He was 84.
Mr. Kirsch started his business after returning from World War II, said his son, Dennis G. Kirsch of Houston.
During the war, Mr. Kirsch served in the Army with the 100th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and at Camp Tyson in Tennessee as a gunnery mechanic, barrage balloonist and company carpenter.
Kirsch Construction, which at one time had 24 employees, started building and remodeling homes and advanced to building warehouses, churches and custom homes.
At one time or another, all of Mr. Kirsch's sons worked for Kirsch Construction.
Mr. Kirsch attached a medal of St. Benedict, the patron saint of builders, to every building he made.
Mr. Kirsch was in business for 38 years before retiring from construction in 1979.
His first wife, the former Mary Grace Bearer, died suddenly when Mr. Kirsch was 43, leaving him with five children age 10 and under. Mr. Kirsch got married a second time, to the former Marian L. Westrick.
"We were blessed to have two mothers," said his daughter, Mary Jean Kirsch of Walkersville, Md. "One gave us life and one taught us how to live it."
Even in retirement, Mr. Kirsch couldn't stay away from working with wood as he made small crafts and Adirondack chairs.
"You couldn't get the sawdust off him," his son said.
An avid fisherman, Mr. Kirsch spent winters fishing at several streams near Mecco, Fla., and fished the streams and dams of Northwestern Pennsylvania as well as Lake Glendale in the spring.
Mr. Kirsch was a member of St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church and its Holy Name Society. He also was a former member of the Miners Hospital board and the advisory board of Johnstown Bank & Trust Co.
His family describes Mr. Kirsch as a self-made man who was strong in his beliefs, whether it was his faith, family or business decisions.
Another son, Phillip Kirsch of San Jose, Calif., said Mr. Kirsch gave his children a good idea of what life was like: "He said, 'Do it right the first time, and you don't have to do it again.'"
In addition to his sons and daughter, Mr. Kirsch is survived by two other sons, Jeffrey Kirsch of Northern Cambria and Alton Kirsch of Waveland, Miss.; another daughter, Charlene Kirsch of Northern Cambria; five sisters, Camilla Wolf of Canton, Ohio, Lucille Hoover of Hastings, Florentz Kirsch of Northern Cambria, Anna Mae Knechtel of Lakeland, Fla., and Ruth Born of Hastings; five brothers, Richard Kirsch and James Kirsch, both of Northern Cambria, Max Kirsch of Port Charlotte, Fla., Vincent Kirsch of North Carolina and Timothy Kirsch of Bloomington, Ind.; eight grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and numerous nieces and nephews.