John Thomas Gerlach, age 87, of Stratford, CT passed away peacefully in his home on May 10th, 2020. He was born in McAdoo, Pennsylvania to the late John and Mary (Meshinsky) Gerlach.
John graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia before joining the Navy where he served as a navigator on board the aircraft carrier USS Randolph in the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade). Returning to Philadelphia, he earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University fo Pennsylvania and then went to work for Booz, Allen & Hamilton in Chicago.
John had a rich and successful career in the business world. He was the youngest person to be named Vice President at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN. Years later he started a venture capital firm before being hired to be President of Horn & Hardart in New York City. He served as a director on many boards including St John’s University in Minnesota and Pizzeria Uno, where his sage and measured advice was appreciated for many years. While working in New York, from time to time he taught classes at his alma mater, Drexel University, and after retiring from the business world, John followed his passion for working with young people and turned to a second career in teaching full time.
John taught for nearly 30 years at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He was the first full time Director of the MBA program and founded an investment club for MBA alumni. He took great interest in student-entrepreneurs, helping them to develop business plans and continued to work with them even after retiring from teaching last year.
John had many passions. He was an avid golf and tennis player, had a great appreciation for fine wine, the opera and theater, and he loved to travel which he did extensively. He had many life-long friends but never stopped making new ones. He was a wonderful listener, had an exceptional intellect and a great sense of humor. John was a dedicated member of the Catholic Church and volunteered his time to various non-profits including the Merton House soup kitchen in Bridgeport, CT.
He was a beloved and devoted father and is survived by his three children: John Thomas Gerlach Jr, Audrey (Gerlach) Lewis and her husband John, and David Wester Gerlach and his wife Meera, as well as his two loving sisters and their spouses, Geraldine Urban and Joseph, and Anna Mary Mauro and John.
He was cherished by his seven grandchildren: Isabelle, Jack, Natalie, Harrison, Max, Elliot and Theo and had many nieces and nephews he was close to and adored. John was also loved and will be missed by his companion of 30 years, Carol Front of Allentown, PA.
The family would like to thank his caretaker Barbara Anchin for her loving and dedicated support during these past two years.
In light of the times, the family has decided to postpone holding a service in his honor until more of his loved ones can gather together.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name at the Merton Center https://www.themertoncenter.org/donate/ or to a scholarship fund set up by John to assist undergraduate finance students to study at the SHU sister school in Luxembourg www.sacredheart.edu/givetoshu Choose the designation indicating “John Gerlach Fund”.