Obituary of Martin Daniel Gerkes
Martin Daniel Gerkes, B.I.D.
Passed away on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, at Brampton Civic Hospital consequent of complications related to a five year battle with Lymphoma. He is survived by his loving common-law wife of 23 years, Catherine Long, his best friend and partner in the building of all things, Colin George Davis, of Oshawa. Among those who mourn his loss are: inlaws Mary Long, Carl and Martha Sheardown, of Oro Medonte, Thomas Sheardown and Hayley Kay, of Snow Valley, Michael Sheardown of Barrie, Jane Blackstone of Toronto, Suzanne Linnell, of Comox B.C., and Susan Johnson and family, of Melbourne, Australia. On his maternal side, he leaves an aunt, Otilia Ludvik, an uncle Joe Zalik, and cousins, in Toronto, as well as Anton and Denise Zalik, and family, of Lethbridge, Alberta. He is additionally remembered by a host of friends and colleagues too numerous to mention.
Born in Oshawa, Ontario on June 23rd, 1958, he was the only son and child of Martin and Anna Gerkes, neé Zalik, both of whom were post war emigrés from Slovenia. He spent all of his formative years in the Oshawa, Hampton, and Bowmanville areas, where he and his parents developed an apple orchard.
Graduating with honours from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Industrial Design in 1982, Martin Daniel went to work in Toronto’s exhibit industry, landing jobs with J. and O. Exhibits, and Taylor Design. He also worked freelance, but in the latter part of his career, became the head of new product design in the Research and Development department of DeCoustics, a subsidiary of Saint Gobain, in Woodbridge. Martin Daniel’s work in design was award-winning; a host of patents have been issued in his name, and people frequenting the Greek and Roman galleries at the ROM, galleries in the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois, or staying in opulent condominiums in Manhattan, New York, and the Burj Khalifa (formerly the Burj Dubai) will have encountered his work. He was a consultant on a project to honour the work of the Coast Guard Lighthouse Keepers of Newfoundland, and offered his expertise to many small and medium businesses in the Greater Toronto Area.
Martin Daniel’s greatest passion, beyond his work in design, his love of performance cars, WWII combat planes, heavy rock and jazz, emanated from the research, planning, development, and operation of an apple orchard north-west of Bowmanville. Beginning work in his early teens, he assisted his parents in developing a ten acre orchard on Rundle Road, which was later expropriated by the MTO for the 407. Fortuitously, he and his parents had purchased another hundred acre parcel in the early 1980s, where he shifted his energies, employing all manner of innovation to expand his business. He was the first grower in the area to plant Honeycrisp, the current darling of the apple industry, and became a stalwart defender of small agricultural operations, standing up against the incursions they too often experience consequent of creeping development and over-zealous environmental intrusion.
Friends and colleagues are invited to attend a Memorial Service in Martin Daniel’s honour, at NORTHCUTT ELLIOTT FUNERAL HOME, 53 Division St., Bowmanville, ON, on Saturday, November 3rd, at 11 am. A social hour will proceed the joint service for Martin Daniel, and his mother, Anna, who predeceased by two weeks. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to: the Oncology and Palliative Care units of the William Osler Hospital System Foundation-Brampton Civic site, the Canadian Cancer Society, or to the Kidney Foundation.