|Birth: ||Sep. 5, 1906, Austria|
|Death: ||Nov. 1, 1993|
Joseph I. Gerber was born in Austria, the son of Frank and Rosalie (Eble) Gerber. At the age of seven in 1913 his family came to America (including his older sister, Elizabeth, and younger siblings Andrew and Rosie Gerber (Wagner). He was raised in Scranton, PA and had long felt a calling to the Catholic priesthood. His academic and religious preparation for the priesthood took place at Josephinum College in Columbus, OH. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the diocese of Peoria, IL on May 25, 1933. After this, he served as a assistant pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Parish in Peoria for four years. From 1937 to 1943 he was chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, during which time he taught in the nurses training school. He joined the U.S. Navy in April of 1943 and became a Navy chaplain for the duration of WWII. Taking part in four major battles in the Pacific Theater, he was seriously injured in the battle of Iwo Jima when his ship took a direct hit of enemy fire. Left bleeding and with no pulse, he was given emergency blood plasma and recovered after seven days of unconsciousness. Refusing to be sent home, he served for the duration of the war. He became a full Captain in the U.S. Navy and was very proud of his service to the United States. He received the Purple Heart and the Admiral Halsey commendation, remaining in the Reserves until 1970. In 1946 he was assigned the task of forming a new Catholic parish in the area of Peoria that saw explosive growth after WWII. The new church, named St. Philomena, was very innovative in architecture with no columns supporting the roof to obstruct a view of the altar. Over the next 15 years he saw to the constant growth of the church facility and school; the church held 1000 people and the school had 18 classrooms. A large gym, auditorium, and an 18 room convent for the religious teaching sisters at the school were added under his leadership. He was also instrumental in the formation of yet another parish, Holy Family Catholic parish, serving as a guiding light to the new pastor there. At age 64, Fr. Gerber was granted a leave from the Peoria Diocese to serve as a missionary in the Diocese of Cuernavaca, Mexico. Here he provided religious education, organized a farmers' cooperative, and provided assistance at a local medical clinic. He retired from this activity in 1989. He died Nov. 1, 1993 at the Bethesda Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Chevy Chase, MD. One brother, Andrew Gerber, and one sister, Rose (Gerber) Wagner, survived him at the time of his death.
Note: With thanks to the Peoria Catholic POST for bio information.
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Sec: 2, Site: E-72-2
Maintained by: Larry Hagemann
Originally Created by: Loretta Castaldi
Record added: Nov 03, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 79784458
Your St. Philomena parishioners all remember you with fondness, Fr. Gerber. May you rest in the peace of the Lord.|
Added: Jul. 18, 2014