Cover photo for Lawrence Herbert Gerlach, Jr.'s Obituary
Lawrence Herbert Gerlach, Jr. Profile Photo
1934 Lawrence Herbert Gerlach, Jr. 2024

Lawrence Herbert Gerlach, Jr.

July 15, 1934 — February 13, 2024

Kalamazoo, Michigan


Lawrence Herbert Gerlach of Kalamazoo, Michigan, passed away peacefully on February 13, 2024, at the age of 89. Lawrence was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 15, 1934, to the late Lawrence and Margaret (Hofbauer) Gerlach. Growing up in Chicago, Larry was a huge White Sox fan. After moving to Michigan later in life, he enjoyed watching the Tigers games as often as possible. In 1952, Larry graduated from St. Rita High School in Chicago, Illinois. He was drafted by the Army in 1954 during the Korean war, honorably serving until 1956 when he bought his first new car the same day he was discharged.

Larry married his first wife, Ann Claire White, in 1960, sharing 32 years of adventures and memories until her passing in 1992. He later met and married Mary Ellen Sabin. Together they shared 29 years of memories until his passing.

Larry was an exceptional salesman his entire career and never met a person he didn’t like. His love of people served him well in his profession. An entrepreneurial at heart, he purchased two stores in Illinois, one in East Moline and the other in Silvis. During this time, he taught several of his children how to run a business, leaving behind a legacy of values and wisdom. Missing the challenge of sales, he returned to Swift for the remainder of his career. Larry believed in doing the best you can and often ended conversations with “whatever you do today, do it right”.

Larry had such a vibrant spirit and the genuine ability to bring joy with him wherever he was. He was nicknamed “Smiley” in high school, a tradition lovingly carried on by his children throughout his life. It was impossible to not crack a smile if you were in his presence. Larry cherished the time spent with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. He held his family close to his heart, always wanting the best for them, especially their happiness. His loss will leave a void, but the memories he created will forever remain in the hearts of family and friends.

Lawrence will be deeply missed by his beloved wife, Mary Ellen; children, Marie Gerlach, Robert Gerlach, Charles (Cindy) Gerlach, Peggy (Greg) Gornick, and Cathy Hazen; step-children, Wendie (Alan) Williams and Scott (Stephanie) Sabin; 7 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

Lawrence was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Margaret Gerlach, wife, Ann Gerlach, and brother, Robert Gerlach.

A visitation will be held at Texas Corners Bible Church, 7780 S 8th St, Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Thursday, February 22, at 10:00 am, with a funeral service to follow at 11:00 am. Interment will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery on February 22 at 2:00 pm. Memorial contributions may be made in Lawrence's honor to Centrica Care Navigators. To leave an online condolence, please visit

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, February 22, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Thursday, February 22, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Thursday, February 22, 2024

2:00 - 2:30 pm (Eastern time)

Fort Custer National Cemetery

15501 Dickman Road, Augusta, MI 49012

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