School 13

Gerhard Albert Fuerst

July 9, 1936 ~ January 6, 2021 (age 84)


It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Gerhard Albert Fuerst, age 84. Gerhard went peacefully to be with his Lord on January 6, 2021. He was born on July 9, 1936, in Bayreuth, Germany, and grew up in Feuchtwangen, Germany.

Growing up during World War II profoundly affected him and caused him to take nothing in life for granted. Life was tough but fulfilling and adventurous. Gerhard was a renaissance man. He was an artist, actor, athlete, author, and a tireless champion of truth, justice, and peace. He proved every day that the pen is mightier than the sword and never shied away from doing what 1s right.

He first came to the United States in 1952 as an exchange student at Santa Cruz High School, California. As a result of a serendipitous friendship with Knox Wicks from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gerhard returned to the states in 1958 to continue his university studies. On a Western Michigan University-sponsored trip to East Africa, he met his wife Marianne. They lived and raised their four children in Kalamazoo and recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary.

Gerhard was a world traveler, animal lover, spoke many languages, and climbed several mountains. He loved classical music and opera, photography, gardening, as well as making various jams and jellies. He created beautiful wooden bowls, mosaics, ceramic bowls and plates, calling himself "The Happy Potter". Incredibly handy and skilled in laying tile and carpentry, he often could be found with a hammer in his hand working on numerous home-improvement projects.

He came from a long line of musicians and artists. Gerhard extensively researched and preserved his family's history including many paintings from his grandfather. In addition to discovering extended family members, he loved to make connections with numerous artists, writers, singers, and humanitarians from around the world.

Gerhard was a respected teacher in the Kalamazoo Public Schools for over 37 years. He also taught part-time as an adjunct professor at Western Michigan University. He taught U. S. Government, U.S. History, Civics, Anthropology, World History, World Geography, German, and Introduction to the Non-Western World.

A life-long lover of learning, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Social Sciences, and a Master of Arts degree in International and Area Studies (with a focus on Africa) from WMU. Gerhard also completed special course work at the Technical University of Munich, Kalamazoo College, University of Michigan, la Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, University of Oxford, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, University of Nairobi, St. Mary's College, and Harvard University. During his career, Gerhard was honored with the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge and three Excellence in Education awards by the Kalamazoo Education Foundation. What he liked best about teaching was the opportunity to prepare young people to be responsible, respectful, and informed citizens.

Community service played an important part in Gerhard's life. He served as a board member of the Kalamazoo Bach Society and on the council of Trinity Lutheran Church in Kalamazoo. Over the years he sponsored German, figure skating, fencing, and chess clubs. He accompanied student delegations to Russia, Washington, D.C., Australia, and New Zealand. Gerhard was a member of many professional associations including the U.S. Figure Skating Association and the U.S. Fencing Association. For a few years, he sang in community choruses with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

Gerhard was a published poet, writing in German, English, French, and Spanish, with some of his works appearing in various publications around the world. He authored a book of poetry entitled, Dies und Das und sonst noch Was… published in 2016, with a second edition coming out in 2021.

Above all, he loved and was very proud of his family. His four children and eight grandchildren gave him much joy and pleasure. He supported and encouraged his children throughout their education and careers. Gerhard and Marianne always attended their children's and grandchildren's musical performances and athletic events. He often traveled home to Germany to spend time with family and friends, who were all very important to him. Marianne and Gerhard opened their home to many amazing exchange students and professionals over the years. Teaching their children that connecting on a personal level with people from around the world is the essence to learn, love, and live.

He leaves behind his wife Marianne (Oberman) Fuerst, their four children Christina (Chad) Devlin, Michael (Sarah) Fuerst, Heidi (Randy) Albertson, Sarah (David) Zimmermann, and eight grandchildren, Benjamin Devlin, Annabelle and Henry Fuerst, Kaitlyn and Elyse Albertson, and Emma, Jacob, and Joseph Zimmermann. He has a loving brother Werner (Uta) Fürst, and sister Heidrun (Dieter) Guntz, a 100-year-old cousin, Ingrid Neuner who live in Germany as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews living in Germany, Michigan, and around the world. He also leaves a sister-in-law Barbara Scott. He was preceded in death by his parents, Adolf and Luise Fürst, and sister Dietlind Haberl.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Gerhard's name may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, Western Michigan University - School of Music, WMUK, or Communities In Schools - Kalamazoo.

Due to the current situation with the Coronavirus, the memorial service will take place for the family on January 30 and will be streamed live for friends and relatives to attend. A larger Celebration of Life is being planned for later in the summer or next summer, depending on COVID regulations.

Please visit Gerhard's personalized online guestbook at for service information and to share a memory.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Gerhard Albert Fuerst


Trinity Lutheran Church
504 S Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49007
Tel: 2693446181

Kalamazoo Institute of Art
314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo MI 49007
Tel: 2693497775

Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo
125 West Exchange Place, Kalamazoo MI 49007
Tel: 2693371601

Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra
714 S. Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49007
Tel: 2693497557

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 100, Kalamazoo MI 49007
Tel: 2693497759

Western Michigan University School of Music or WMUK
Attn: Gift Processing, WMU Foundation, 1903 W. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008
Tel: 2693874667

AGV Munchen-Akademischer Gesangverein Munchen
Ledererstrasse 5, 80331 Munchen, Germany,

Frankisches Museum Feuchtwangen
Museumstrasse 19, 91555 Feuchtwangen, Germany,

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