Robert J. Gerloff, 87, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, at his home in rural Woodstock, the same house where he was born, on the farm where he lived his whole life.
He was born July 14, 1926, to August and Helena (Stake) Gerloff.
On May 24, 1952, he married Eleanor Lorraine Eckert at Grace Lutheran Church, Woodstock.
He was a longtime member of Woodstock Progressive Milk Producers Association – a farmer-run co-operative – and served for many years on the board of directors.
Together, he and his wife raised five children and worked in the dairy business.
In 1972, they sold their first registered bull for use in artificial insemination. The sale of registered dairy cattle from their small family farm to Holstein breeders on five different continents left a lasting genetic legacy in the global dairy industry. Their dairy herd was routinely among the top herds in the county and state in dairy production.
When he retired from milking in 1996, he became executive-secretary of the Woodstock Progressive Milk Producers Association and held that job part time until his passing. Over the years, he served as member and officer on many agriculture-related boards including McHenry-Lake County Holstein Association and the McHenry-Lake Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
He and his wife valued education and willingly sent all five children to college with the income of their small farm. After he retired from milking, he volunteered as a docent at the McHenry County Historical Society, sharing his knowledge of farming with school groups.
He was known for his self-discipline and hard work. He milked cows almost daily from age 9 to 70. He also was known for his kindness, gentleness, personal integrity, wisdom and strength of character. He loved animals and had a profound appreciation of the natural world, and his weather predictions were right every time.
Survivors include two sons, Bruce (Lois) Gerloff and Brian (Carole) Gerloff, both of Woodstock; three daughters, Pamela Gerloff, Woodstock, Jane Gerloff, Woodstock, and Lisa (Bill) Banker, Harvard; five grandchildren, Matthew, Sarah and Daniel Gerloff and Robert and Joseph Gerloff; a sister, Evelyn Hart, Woodstock, and a sister-in-law, Edna Steadman, Woodstock; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; and his twin sister, Ruth Hemmingsen Case.
Visitation was Sept. 13 at Schneider-Leucht-Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, Woodstock. The funeral was Sept. 14 at Grace Lutheran Church, Woodstock. The Rev. Ken Gibson officiated.
Interment was at McHenry County Memorial Park, Woodstock.
Memorials can be sent to Grace Lutheran Church, 1300 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock, IL 60098, the McHenry County Historical Society, 6422 Main St., Union, IL 60180, or the Illinois Holstein Association Scholarship Fund, c/o Carol Jones, treasurer, 23485 N. 3100 E Road, Emington, IL 60934.