Fall was settling in over Gnometown and all of the gnomes had gathered around a roaring bonfire on a clear, crisp night to celebrate the end of a bountiful harvest. After sharing a plentiful meal, the gnomes were eagerly anticipating the telling of the story of Farmer Gerry. This was one of their favorite stories because Farmer Gerry did so many interesting and wonderful things, and in the gnome tradition, he did them humbly, out of love for God, his family and community.
Believe it or not, Farmer Gerry wasn’t born on a farm. Mother Mathilde, a school teacher, and Father Louie, a businessman, began their family in a gnome home in town but moved their family to the farm when the Great Depression arrived. Farmer Gerry loved living on the farm with his parents and siblings: Mike, Cutzie, Helen, Carol, Kay and Elsie. There was always work to be done, but Farmer Gerry found ways to have fun too, like secretly saddling up old Raven and bursting out the barn door past his brother to ride away and play with his friend on the neighboring farm.
Life on the farm planted in him his love of agriculture. Life with his parents and siblings sowed the seeds of faith and commitment to God and the joy of volunteering. When he was in high school he had a car, so his mother would volunteer him to drive her friends on errands. Eventually, Farmer Gerry would leave (temporarily) Gnometown, but not before becoming an active 4-H member and quarterbacking a never-scored on championship football team.
Like many other young gnome men at the time, Farmer Gerry left home to serve in the great war called WWII. He enlisted in the Marines and was trained as a fighter pilot. Fortunately, the enemy heard what a skilled and courageous pilot Farmer Gerry was so they surrendered (or at least that’s what Farmer Gerry would later tell his children). After the war, Farmer Gerry went off to the St. Paul campus of the U of M to further his knowledge and love of agriculture and to meet the love of his life, Patsy! He made his Gnometown proud in college by his leadership and ambition to improve the College of Agriculture.
After working for three years as a county agriculture extension agent, Farmer Gerry, wife Patsy and little David moved back to the farm just outside of Gnometown where he’d spent his childhood days. Gnometown was full of new opportunities for a gnome like Farmer Gerry. He got involved in lots of community activities and it wasn’t long before his enthusiasm for and knowledge of agriculture was put to good use. He was a director and member of the Farm Bureau, Dawson Grain, Dawson Mills, Minnesota Agri-growth Council, USDA Advisory Committee on Grain and many others. He was also a member of the American Soybean Association and eventually became the president and chairman of the board. Oh, the gnome adventures he tells of all the interesting people he’s met and the exciting places he’s gone, promoting soybeans grown by American farmers. He traveled to communist USSR, Poland, pre-war Yugoslavia and South America, not to mention all over the United States.
Farmer Gerry was also very busy over the years, right here in Gnometown. He and Patsy had two more children, Maren and Kristi. He was a hands-on farmer for many years, raised livestock and started a fertilizer business. Local community support and development were and continue to be very dear to his heart. He was an involved member of Grace Lutheran Church, Gnometown Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion and a director of Minnwest Bank. In 1984, he served as chairman of Gnometown Centennial and was very active in helping to build the Johnson Memorial Hospital and expanding Johnson Memorial Nursing Home. He represented Gnometown on the boards of the Southwest Initiative Foundation and the Courage Center.
Through all this activity, Farmer Gerry cherished the blessings of a loving family and good friends. Farmer Gerry was the gnome who secretly delivered poinsettias at Christmas time and hid to see the joy on the faces of those who received them.
So you may think that you’ve never seen a gnome? Next time you experience a random act of kindness, you’ve been in the presence of a gnome like Farmer Gerry.