Family man, community volunteer, sports enthusiast. Born on Feb. 5, 1963, in Humboldt, Sask.; died on Nov. 2, 2013, in Saskatoon, of brain cancer, aged 50.
Gerald Berscheid grew up on a farm in Humboldt, Sask., the youngest of seven kids. His outgoing, enthusiastic personality was reflected in his nickname, Ger Bear, bestowed on him by his wife. From the start, his life focused on faith, family, friends and community.
As a child, he excelled in sports but his time playing soccer and hockey was limited because of the many farm chores that had to be done. He and his dad relished time together watching Hockey Night in Canada. Sundays were reserved for church, but also involved cheering on their beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders on many afternoons.
When Gerald was grown, he was lured back to the farm every spring and fall to plant and harvest canola, wheat and barley, and to help tend the dairy cows. So it was no surprise when he decided to study agricultural economics at the University of Saskatchewan.
In 1988, he married Sharon Fedorowich, whom he met while living in Yorkton, where he started his career as a commercial lender with Farm Credit Canada. This was his dream job – interacting with farmers in the field. He and Sharon later moved to Saskatoon, where daughters Jessica and Nicole were born, and son Jordan soon followed.
Gerald lived for his family. The kids were encouraged to participate in many things and were gifted athletically. This fit well with his own love of sports and he was soon coaching his daughters’ soccer teams. He also helped to organize football, soccer and other activities for the community.
His attention turned Jordan’s basketball ambitions, and Gerald co-founded the Saskatoon Slam, a provincial “A” level league. The league, which started with two teams and now has 12, hosts an annual tournament in Saskatoon which he faithfully helped to organize. He was the patient assistant coach, the “elder” who provided guidance for players and coaches alike. Gerald was also involved in many other community activities, as a member of the Knights of Columbus and other charitable work.
In September, 2012, after a basketball practice, he complained of a severe headache. After many hospital visits, inoperable brain cancer was diagnosed. He spent the next 14 months in and out of hospital but on good days managed to take in a basketball game, watch hockey, and talk about the Roughriders.
Gerald was known for his infectious personality and his witty humour and one-liners. He kept hospital staff, friends and family thoroughly entertained throughout his illness, a selfless effort to deflect from his situation and stay strong for his wife and family.
During his illness, frequent prayer sessions were held with family members; after prayers were read, everyone was asked to pray aloud for something specific. When it came to Gerald, he did not pray to be cured of his disease but rather for a cure for diabetes, which two of his children have. Although he was very ill, he calmly told me that if it were God’s will to take him from this life, he had no regrets.
When Gerald passed away, his impact on the community was evident. Tributes and accolades poured in to the family, a benefit social was sold out, and many schools cancelled classes so friends of his children and teammates from Slam could attend his funeral.
The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. Gerald figured out his true purpose early and lived it fully: to help others, to teach, coach, mentor and provide.
Garrett Nenson is Gerald’s brother-in-law.