Obituary of Pierre Gerster |

Obituary of Pierre Gerster

Pierre Gerster passed away July 14, 2014.

He was born in Detroit on Feb. 23, 1929, to Pierre and Irma Gerster of Milhous, Alsace, Lorraine, France. He moved to Berkeley in 1949.

There will be an open house and storytelling as a celebration of Pierre’s life starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7. This will be a casual potluck at Wild Kingdom Ranch in You Bet (Grass Valley). For directions, call Jackie at 916-747-1415 or email

Pierre worked as a fireman for Southern Pacific for 9 years and worked as a machinist at Pacific Roller Die Co. in Hayward for 30 years.

Pierre was a voracious reader and a genius with anything metal. He was seen riding his VW trike, of his own design, throughout the Sierra Foothills and all the way to Alaska in 1976. He built his first trike in 1971 and his last trike was built in 2007 for his wife of 40 years, Jackie. He competed in natural bodybuilding in 1949 and 1950 and was honored to meet Jack LaLanne, Steve Reeves and other icons of the day. One of his loves was Rendezvous time, a recreation of the fur trade era, 1820-1840. He enjoyed wearing buckskins, shooting his muzzleloader, putting up his tipi and meeting many wonderful and talented people. His love of history pulled deeply from the roots of this hobby. This passion brought out more of his talent as a metalsmith, making beautiful knives and working as a blacksmith.

Pierre was also a gifted storyteller, probably inheriting this gift from his artist father, “Papa Pierre.” He loved sharing stories about his parents immigrating from France to Detroit, living and surviving during the Great Depression, the exquisite curiosity he developed as a young boy in Michigan, and his first encounters with nature. He was still weight training at Iron Works Athletic Club and loading trucks as a volunteer for the Senior Wood Program of Nevada County at the age of 85.

His dream was to own 40 acres, live off the grid and build his own home. He accomplished his dream. His love of animals and nature were almost beyond comprehension for some — to see the beauty of the same tree every day, to be nuzzled by a kitty or to hand-feed a deer.

Pierre is survived by his wife of 40 years, Jackie; his sisters, Annette and Yvonne; his niece Christine Marie; and Keith X who he proudly referred to as his “nephew.” He was predeceased by his sister, Betty.

He leaves behind many friends and will be greatly missed.

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