Life Story Celebration
Life Story Reception
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center FBO Sizzlin' Summer Math and Science Program
600 W Vine St, Ste 400
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Make checks payable to KAMSC and note "Summer" in the memo line.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A peaceful warrior, gifted storyteller, nature lover, healer, lifelong learner, servant leader, teacher, and a man of God, Mark Edward Gerger lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Mark was honest, loyal, gentle, and open-minded. He always did what he believed was right and still accepted others and their choices. A person who led with his heart, Mark welcomed each day as a joyous gift and every person as a friend. He was very loving and generous, enthusiastically seeking opportunities to learn, and never hesitating in lending his gifts and talents in service of others. A devoted husband, father, student, teacher, colleague, neighbor, and friend, Mark inspired all who were blessed to know him.
Mark was born in Saginaw, Michigan to Edward and Dawn (Kischnick) Gerger on September 21st, 1954. The oldest of four children, Mark relished his big brother role and was especially close to his mom. She supported and encouraged his varied interests including puppeteering, ventriloquism, robotics, reading, and all things science. However, after his grandparents bought him his first chemistry set as a kid, she was less than thrilled because Mark discovered he enjoyed making things go "boom!" This small present fueled a passion for learning that would only continue to grow, though not without a couple of bumps in the road. Few people know that he almost failed math early in school, but with the help of an excellent teacher who showed him that math could be fun, he found much success. He received his high school diploma from Portage Northern in 1972 and eventually graduated with Honors from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s in chemistry, a master's in statistics, and a life-long passion for teaching and learning.
A man of great honor, Mark felt a calling to law enforcement, becoming a reserve police officer for Portage and an officer in Stevensville. Mark soon enrolled in the police academy and later served with the Mattawan Police Department where he was awarded a department commendation, a nomination for Police Officer of the Year, and a promotion to Detective for solving a string of on-going crimes. While working for Mattawan, he met his future wife Mary when she joined the department. They were united in marriage on February 11th, 1984. In time they were blessed to become parents when their daughter, Sarah, was born.
A hands-on father, Mark cherished his relationship with his daughter. He used his gift for storytelling to create his own bedtime stories when she was little and enjoyed wrestling and having Nerf fights with Sarah and her cousins. Loving and protective, Mark was a brilliant dad who was very engaged in Sarah's education. He was known as the “science guy” and often volunteered his time in her classrooms to help with experiments. Mark could not have been prouder as Sarah grew into adulthood and pursued her passions and dreams. In recent years, they shared in their mutual love of nature, talking “shop,” and telling stories over evening walks around KVCC. They also loved to eat together at The Cove on West Lake (the very same lake on which Mark had lived as a teenager!) and celebrated his 69th birthday there this fall.
A lifelong learner, Mark was a seeker of knowledge and eager to share with others. After leaving the police force in 1982, Mark put his masters degree to work at the Upjohn Company and worked in Quality Assurance for over 22 years. In 2007, he began working in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania at Sanofi Pasteur as a Principle Scientist/Statistics within the Quality Control organization. Within a short time, Mark was promoted to Deputy Director of Statistics/Principle Scientist. He worked at Sanofi Pasteur for 16 years, until the time of his passing. Throughout his career, Mark belonged to the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Quality Engineering, the American Statistical Association, and many other professional organizations. Mark was even the author of a key statistical model that is still in use industry-wide today.
Along with his day job, Mark taught statistics and chemistry evening classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and summer science camps at the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center. He developed Chemical Creations for KAMSC, where he was able to teach kids about one of his favorite subjects, how to make things go "boom!" Most famously, Mark also taught Detective and Forensic Science camps for over two decades, inspiring many students to go into the field. In conjunction with these programs, he co-created the first forensic science programs in Michigan to prepare high school teachers on the subject and was instrumental in bringing forensic science programs into high school classrooms throughout the state. He patented and co-patented science kits for Ward Scientific and continued his own training in forensic anthropology at Mercyhurst University. He used this training during his return to law enforcement as an on-call sheriff’s Special Deputy, where he served alongside his best friend for many years.
In addition to teaching math and science, he taught mystery fiction writing at the Portage Community Education Center. This offered him an opportunity to exercise the more creative side of his brilliant mind. In his later years, Mark trained in energy work and became a Reiki Master healing people and pets, while also training others. One of his favorite experiences involved working with big animals, which he adored. He also earned his Ham Radio Technician license with additional certifications and was very proud to share his call sign: KB3WMN.
From the time Mark was a teen, he was heavily involved in the world of martial arts. Through diligent training over decades, first as a young student with several different Tae Kwon Do schools, and then as a member of the WMTKD Association, he earned his 7th degree black belt and ran his own school for many years. The life-long friendships made through the WMTKD Association were very special to him. Mark always carried the Tenants of Tae Kwon Do in his wallet and lived them every day of his life: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit. After moving to Pennsylvania in 2007 to work at Sanofi, he continued his passion for martial arts, becoming involved in Tai Chi.
As much as martial arts contributed to Mark’s spirituality, he also led and explored an active faith life. In his earlier years, he served as the chairperson of the board of trustees and taught Sunday School at Portage Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Later, as an active member of Reeder’s United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania, he served as a Sunday School teacher and the Leader of Christian Education. He learned to cook for large groups of people, working together with fellow church members on their Community Dinner nights. When visiting home, Mark often enjoyed sermons and fellowship with Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo. Mark credited God for many things, including not only the gift of teaching, but also affording him countless opportunities across many disciplines to do just that.
A genuine people person, Mark was incredibly friendly and always excited to reconnect with people from his past. Everyone he taught mattered to him. He learned just as much from them as they did from him. Profoundly interested in people, their passions, and their stories, he made friends of all ages easily. When he would run into someone he knew from years ago, it would inevitably spark lunches, long conversations, and a call to his daughter later, to excitedly recount the tale.
Though our days with him were far too few, every moment we shared with Mark is a gift to be treasured. May we take comfort in our many wonderful memories. May we celebrate the countless ways Mark made the world a better place and touched our lives. May we also remember we have been entrusted to carry his legacy forward. In each moment, we must confidently say, "Yes!" to learning, teaching, connecting, loving, and giving of ourselves in service of others. Together we shall keep his spirit alive, inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Mark Edward Gerger, age 69, died on October 14th, 2023. Mark was born September 21st, 1954 in Saginaw, Michigan to Edward and Dawn (Kischnick) Gerger, who preceded him in death, along with his great aunt, Sarah Ann (Al) Abram, and his in-laws, Emory and Dorothy Douglass. Surviving are his wife, Mary; daughter, Sarah Gerger; siblings: Scott (Terrie) Gerger, Marcia (Bill) Traywick,and Dr. NanEllen "Joey" (Ron) Rose; step-mother, Ingrid Gerger; step-siblings: Victoria (Tim) Proos, Patrick (Deborah) Hays, and David Hays; nine nephews and their families; many cousins; uncle, Jack (Loretta) Kischnick; and special friends: Marty Johnson, Lanette Durbin, and Susan Fisher; along with legions of other friends, colleagues, students, and neighbors he loved.
Mark touched the lives of so many people and his family would love to hear your favorite stories so they may be preserved, reflected upon, and cherished forever. Please visit his webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive memories, photos, and sign his virtual guestbook.
A Life Story Celebration will be held Sunday, October 22nd, at 2 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow where stories and fellowship will be shared.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center FBO Sizzlin' Summer Math and Science Program, 600 W Vine St, Suite 400, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Make checks payable to KAMSC and note "Summer" in the memo line.