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William Jackson Gerrish
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Birth: Dec. 5, 1919
Marion County
Illinois, USA
Death: Dec. 21, 2003
Creve Coeur
St. Louis County
Missouri, USA

Until his father died in 1929, William, who was born in Carrigan Township, lived most of his life between his grandfather's house and the smaller house, both located on the family farm in Section 8 of Carrigan Township. During the Great Depression in 1932 his stepfather, Norman Williams, took the family on the road going from town to town in search of work, living briefly in Texas and Arkansas. In 1935, the family returned to Illinois where they continued moving from town to town. As the depression was nearing an end, Bill's mother, who had divorced Norman Williams about 1938, moved with her three children to Florida for a short time. Bill returned to Illinois in 1940, living in E. St. Louis where he volunteered for the Army on May 24, 1942. At the time, he was twenty-two and was working at Swift & Company, the meat packers. Bill's mother, with her daughter, June, moved to Washington D.C. in 1940.

On Oct. 22, 1943, at St. Patrick's rectory in Washington, D.C., William married Mary Catherine "Kay" Small, whom he met at the US0 at Union Station in D.C. while on furlough.

Shortly after their marriage, his unit, Company E, 338th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, 85th Infantry Division, United States Fifth Army, departed Fort Dix, New Jersey to receive mountain and amphibious training in North Africa before embarking for the front in Italy. For "meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, during the Rome-Arno Campaign" William was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster. He also received the Combat Infantry Badge and his regiment received the Presidential Unit Citation.

When Bill returned from the Army in 1945, the family moved to 2022 Lynch Ave., East St. Louis. In January 1950 Bill returned to Carrigan Township, to the same house where he had lived as a boy. Except for January 1953 until January 1955 when they lived in Herndon, Virginia, the family lived on the same farm, building a new house there in 1965/6.

William was a member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Sandoval and was very active in the Knights of Columbus, was Past Grand Knight and Past District Deputy of the Third Degree Knights of Columbus, and was Past Faithful Navigator of Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus; and was the Charter Grand Knight of the St Lawrence Council of the Knights of Columbus. In September 2001 he was honored by the Diocese of Belleville for his sixty years of service and dedication to the Knights. Few reach this milestone.

Bill spent 15 years in scouting being Scoutmaster for ten years and Institutional Representative for five years. In 1964 he attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge with some of his troop. He was a member of Centralia VFW Post # 2055 and The Edgar R. Rogier Post # 543 of the American Legion. He served many years as precinct committeeman for Carrigan Township. He was active in both the Patoka and Sandoval Lion's Clubs, the Amateur Radio Relay League and the Centralia Wireless Association, Inc. until the last few years of his life.

For over 25 years Bill was employed by the U.S. Post Office, including 19 years as rural mail carrier for Patoka, retiring at the end of 1979. He carried on the family tradition of farming, doing custom hay baling for many years.

Being a child of the Depression he was self-taught, having limited formal schooling due to the family's many moves looking for work. In December 1974, after all six of their children had graduated from high school and four were through at least the first four years of college, Bill and his wife Kay received their GED certificates at Kaskaskia College in Centralia, of which they were both rightfully proud.

Picture at right: William Gerrish was among 70 US veterans who particpated in the dedication of the Monte Altuzzo memorial honoring those who died there during World War II. It is located on the side of the road which crosses the I1 Giogo Pass near the summit of Mt. Altuzzo. The inscription on the plaque reads,in English and Italian: "In memorial to those men of the 338th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, 85th Infantry Division, United States Fifth Army, who gave their lives for freedom - erected by their devoted comrades and dedicated to the glory of God, 20 September 1987."
(See memorial # 56363311 for a brief history of the 338th Infantry Regiment.) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Harlan Thomas Gerrish (1899 - 1929)
  Eva Lavona Jackson Peruzzi (1903 - 1979)
 
 Spouse:
  Mary Catherine Small Gerrish (1915 - 1996)*
 
 Children:
  Christina Maria Gerrish (1957 - 1957)*
 
 Siblings:
  William Jackson Gerrish (1919 - 2003)
  Eunice Marie Gerrish Shea (1922 - 1989)*
  Norma June Williams Schreppel (1932 - 1993)**
 
*Calculated relationship
**Half-sibling
 
Inscription:
Company E 338th Infantry
85th Infantry Division WW II
Service to God and Country
 
Burial:
Harrison Cemetery
Marion County
Illinois, USA
 
Maintained by: Jane Gerrish Waddell
Originally Created by: Patricia (Jones) Smith
Record added: Dec 28, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 8216264
William Jackson Gerrish
Added by: Jane Gerrish Waddell
 
William Jackson Gerrish
Added by: Jane Gerrish Waddell
 
William Jackson Gerrish
Added by: Jane Gerrish Waddell
 
 
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Thinking of you on your birthday today, Daddy. I think of you often and miss you.
- Jane
 Added: Dec. 5, 2012
Rest in peace on this 4th of July.
- Jill
 Added: Jul. 4, 2007

- Patricia (Jones) Smith
 Added: Dec. 28, 2003
 
 
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