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Larry W. Gerdes, 79, Hornell


Larry W. Gerdes, 79, was called home to be with the Lord on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at the Highlands at Brighton in Rochester, NY. He was born on February 26, 1943 in Ponca, NE the son of the late George William and Minnie (Panhorst) Gerdes. On June 6, 1987 at the Trinity Lutheran Church of Wellsville, he married his wife of 34 years, Deborah Collins, who survives.

Larry was raised in Nebraska until his family moved to Bergholtz, NY. He began his undergraduate education at Concordia University in Nebraska, from where he earned his Teaching Degree. In 1973 he moved with his family to Wellsville until eventually moving to Depew, NY where he was able to complete his education at Concordia Seminary in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. He followed where his faith called and pastored several Lutheran Churches during his career, sharing his faith with so many people. During his time at Trinity Lutheran he served as Director of Christian Education. He also maintained a vicarage at St. Luke’s in Cheektowaga, until his ordination on June 6, 1982. He began his calling as a Lutheran Minister at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Ridgewood, NY. In 1988 he accepted a call to St. Paul’s Lutheran in Columbia, PA. In 1993 he accepted a call to Grace Lutheran of Sylvan Beach, NY. Then in 1996 he moved on to St. John’s Lutheran in Munson, PA, before completing his pastoral career at St. Mark’s Lutheran of West Henrietta, NY, in 2003, retiring in 2008. His ministry was not limited to just his career. He was a member of the Wellsville Ministerium, volunteered with the Hornell Salvation Army, delivered Meals on Wheels for Steuben County, volunteered for the Wellsville Fire Department, and very much enjoyed parking cars for the Penn State Football games.

In addition to his wife Debbie, our beloved Bill’s fan, Yankees fan, and “exceptional” golfer and bowler is survived by: children, Scott (Michelle) Gerdes of Gasport, Lisa (Paul) Lane of Avon, Katie Gerdes of Middleport, Matthew (Tabitha) Heller of Hornell, Tracey Thomas of Canandaigua, Craig (Janice Philips) Heller of Hornell and Kurt Thomas of Seneca Castle; eight grandchildren, Evan Gerdes, Sofia Gerdes, Kassy Heller, Cory Heller, Tyler Phillips, Moriah (Darren) Pollen, Jackson Lane, and Nora Lane; as well as many beloved in-laws, nieces, and nephews, along with his extended family on the B wing at Highlands at Brighton, who cared for and loved Larry as if he were their own. He was predeceased by his parents, and a brother, Wayne Gerdes.

Friends are invited to call on Saturday, March 12, 2022 from 11 am to 1 pm at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 470 N. Main Street, Wellsville, NY. His Celebration of Life will follow in the church with a 1 PM service with the Reverend Dr. Eric Ash Sr. presiding. Please consider memorial donations to Meals on Wheels or Trinity Lutheran Church in Wellsville. To leave online condolences please visit

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