Viola Louise Gerdes of Conneaut, Ohio, died on May 19, 2021, at age 92. She passed peacefully, with dementia and breast cancer. She was born in Coraopolis, PA, on May 3, 1929, to Lula May and Stanley Charles Lucas. She grew up in New Kensington, PA, with her surviving brothers James and Robert, and her deceased sister Phyllis Farneth. She graduated from New Kensington High School. After high school she lived and worked in California with several high school girlfriends. After returning to Pennsylvania, she married William Harry Gerdes of Cheswick, PA, and after brief residences in Erie and Mentor, the couple moved to Conneaut in 1956.
Vi was a long-term resident of Conneaut, where she and her late husband Bill raised three children, owned Gerdes Pharmacy, and participated fully in community life. With her beautiful soprano voice, she brought joy to many when she sang solos and with the church choir, the McDowell Ensemble, and in performances at community concerts and in musical theater productions. Of particular note, she sang in the church choir almost every Sunday for 57 years. Whether as a Den Mother for Cub Scouts or as a volunteer for Hospice of the Western Reserve, Vi always helped wherever she could. Vi and Bill were the Conneaut Citizens of the Year in 1993. As a member of The Conneaut First United Methodist Church, she served on committees including as chair of the organ restoration committee, and contributed many years as Church Treasurer. Vi was also a generous supporter of community organizations, most notably SPARC, Conneaut Food Pantry, and the Conneaut Arts Center.
Vi enjoyed sewing, bridge, travel, skiing, sailing and tennis. We don’t know if she actually enjoyed cooking, but regardless she was an excellent cook. She won the Conneaut Tennis Doubles championship four times, including at age 62. She skied with the family into her 70’s,
and she learned to boogie board on the Outer Banks at 75. Vi was also known for her grace and alacrity on the dance floor. Always with a knack for math, she was the office manager at Gerdes Pharmacy for many years. Vi was a terrific friend to many people of all ages, and was a lively and vibrant force in the community, where she will be missed. She will always be in the hearts of her sons Jeffrey and wife Marsha, Kerry and wife Janet, and Robert and wife Tena; her grandchildren Erica, Beth, Calpin, Jennifer, Scott, Alex, Abby, Adam and Hannah; and her great-grandchildren Ellie, Luke, Wynne, Marlo, and Royal.
A celebration of Vi’s life will be held 11:00 AM, Saturday May 29, 2021 at the New Leaf United Methodist Church, 110 Gateway Ave., Conneaut, OH. Visitation with the family will be from 9:30 AM until the time of the service. Burial will be private, at Center Cemetery.
At the request of the family, we ask that masks be worn during services.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Viola Gerdes can be made to SPARC - Conneaut’s Social Place for Athletics, Recreation and Community (conneautsparc.com); the Conneaut Food Pantry; or to the Conneaut Arts Center (conneautartscenter.com). Envelopes will be available at the church and at the Marcy Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 208 Liberty St., Conneaut, which is honored to be entrusted with arrangements.
The family would like to thank The Villa at the Lake, the Ashtabula County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Hospice of the Western Reserve, and Dr. Linda Weber for all of their kind care during Vi’s later years.