Remembering Richard "Dick" Gerry
by Ed Faits
The New England amateur community lost one of its quiet heroes in July with the passing of Dick Gerry. Dick was a longtime member of both the Springfield Stars Club and Arunah Hill and was a regular at local conventions. He had attended Stellafanes since the 1950's. He picked up several awards over the years.
Dick was a lifelong resident of the Mohawk Trail region of the Berskshires. He loved to share views of the night sky from his famous backyard "Gemini Observatory" at his home in Buckland and to take people on tours of his basement workshop. Dick and Edie, his wife of fifty-two years, graciously hosted the Stars Club annual picnic for the past several years. The observatory, the bucolic setting, and an awesome collection of Dick's friends and their telescopes made for some memorable evenings. Even when the picnic fell on a rainy day, Dick and Edie's hospitality always insured a "stellar" event.
In his eighty-two years, Dick had inspired friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers to look up at the beauty of the heavens. For many years Dick was the author of a weekly astronomy column for the West County News, keeping Franklin COunty Massachusetts residents informed of the wonders of the night sky.
Dick was a research engineer with the Greenfield Tap & Die until his retirement in 1979. Co-workers remember that Dick always found a way to make a machine work, even if he had to invent a spare part or devise a new procedure.
During World War II, Dick was a crew chief in the Army AIr Corps, responsible for keeping P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs flying. These skills were apparent to anyone with a telescope making problem. Dick always made time to share knowledge, and often loaned tools or even built parts to help a fellow amateur telescope maker.
This past September, Edie Gerry hostedf the 1999 Stars Club picnic at the Gemini Observatory. Though Dick was dearly missed, we joyously felt the presence of the man who showed us the stars, and took the time to show how to build the instruments to see them more clearly.
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