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GERWING, Clement F.

February 24, 1920 – March 11, 2014

Our hero slipped away on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at the Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, shortly after his 94th birthday.

Clem leaves to mourn his loving wife, Hedy, of 67 years. He was a wonderful father of six: Linda (Laurie) Jacques; Erica (Jeff) Baggs; Debby (Bruce) Wheeler; Harriet (Dave) Quigley; Tim Gerwing (predeceased by Denise) and Pat; John Gerwing and Ruth. He was the proud grandfather of 11, and great-grandfather of 7. Also surviving are siblings, cousins, sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and of course his beloved Jack Russell, Jake.

Clem was one of thirteen surviving children born to John and Amelia Gerwing. He grew up in rural Saskatchewan, lived in Nebraska from the ages of 8 to 13 and then returned to Lake Lenore where he completed Grade 12 at St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Saskatchewan. In 1941 Clem enlisted in the R.C.A.F. and after first being posted in England was eventually assigned to the No. 17 R.A.F. Squadron in Ceylon in 1943. He started out by flying “Hurricanes” and eventually moved on to the ultimate, the “Spitfire.” He served in the Burmese theatre where he flew protective escort for Lord Louis Mountbatten on many occasions and they remained close friends. In 1945 the Canadians were recalled from the Far East back to Britain and two weeks later Clem boarded the S.S. New Amsterdam and sailed back to Canada.

Our Father is immortalized on the “Wall of Fame” at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, where his first Spitfire (YBJ) resides. Clem is also archived at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. A number of his personal war effects are on display at the Benson-Hingley Military Museum in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Clem ran many successful businesses over the years but is most widely known as the founder and driving force behind the Alberta Boot Company. He started manufacturing high quality western boots at age 58 (when many people are contemplating retirement!). He would like to thank his cherished ‘Work Family’, past and present, for their loyal service. Clem would also like to mention that Stampede is right around the corner – a great time to get a new pair of Calgary-made Alberta Boots!!

Dad loved sharing his extraordinary war stories and history lessons with everyone – especially his grandchildren. He was a history scholar, an avid reader and he was always up to date on current events. Flying his assortment of airplanes was a great joy in his younger years. Later, he loved sailing and fishing on Lake Bonavista; gardening (especially his raspberries) and magnificent flowers; beating the pants off everyone in cribbage; traveling the world; curling; playing bridge; following everything in the worlds of hockey and politics; and a nice glass of Asti Spumanti at the end of a productive day. Clem was a true leader with boundless energy, a fighting spirit and a ‘heart of gold.’

Relatives and friends are invited to Prayers and Tributes at St. Gerard’s Catholic Church (8944 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. (with plenty of free parking…to boot).

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Gerard’s Catholic Church (8944 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Monday, March 17, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. with cremation to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. Family members would like to thank the inspired and compassionate staff on Unit 58 of the Rockyview. We appreciate the fond memories shared with Dad and our family during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, memorial tributes to the Denise Lindsay Gerwing Memorial Bursary may be made by phone (403-220-5854 or Toll Free 1-800-972-8632) or by cheque payable to the University of Calgary, Denise Lindsay Gerwing Memorial Bursary, c/o U of C Development Office, Olympic Volunteer Centre, 1833 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB, T2M 4S7.

In living memory of Clement Gerwing, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

Offer Condolence for the family of GERWING, Clement F.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Tim – so very sorry to hear of your Father’s passing. Have very fond memories of chatting with him at Alberta Boot
    Downtown. Please know our thoughts are with you and your family.
    Sincerely Ken and Patti Gordon

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  2. Tim,
    I’m very sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. The Hallbrook Place days bring back many fond memories.
    Doug

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  3. Marian and Doug Hamilton :

    Linda and Laurie,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. Though I never met him, he seems like a wonderful character! I’m sure you will miss him very much. Please know that God is with you in your journey of grief. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

    Marian and Doug Hamilton

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  4. Roger and Barbara Heise :

    To the whole family- most of whom we have met over the years and especially to Mrs Gerwing and our dear friends Laurie and Linda Jacques, Carly and Heather and their families, we send our love and want you all to know we are thinking of you.
    We have enjoyed family times over the years when we got to know Clem and Hedy. We always enjoyed talking to them. At those events we always were welcomed and included (even though we are from Ontario !)
    We both have had boots from Alberta Boot and have worn them with pride.
    The obituary reminded us of what a journey Clem’s life turned out to be and how he served his fellow man and his country.
    Again we send our sincere condolences and our love.
    Roger and Barb

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  5. Mike and Linda Hughes :

    Linda and Laurie

    Our sympathies go out to you on the passing of Linda’s dad. Having read his obituary he sounds like he was a great person and lived a very full life.
    Our love, thoughts and prayers are with you and the girls especially at this time
    Love from
    Linda, Mike, Gavin, Shara and the Hughes and Newton Family

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  6. Marilyn Viccars :

    Linda,
    I am so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing.
    He approached life with such gusto and has left quite a legacy.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, Laurie, and the girls.
    Love, Marilyn

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  7. Miriam Gerwing Fraser :

    Aunt Hedy, Linda, Debby, Erica, Harriet, Tim, John and all of your families, my most heartfelt sympathies and prayers. Stay strong together, there are so many good memories of Uncle Clem and you as well as the time spent at Alberta Boot when Dad took us to visit.
    All my love, Miriam

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  8. Susan Williams :

    Linda and Laurie. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. Sue

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  9. Lambert/Litt Family :

    Harriet, Dave, Doug and Sarah,

    We were so saddened to hear of your father’s passing. He had such an indomitable spirit and leaves behind such an incredible legacy.
    Our love, thoughts and prayers are with you,
    Lynn and Rob, Brendan and Hayley

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  10. Lambert/Litt Family :

    Linda and Laurie

    We wish to express our deepest condolences to you and your family. Your father certainly lived his life to the fullest and leaves behind a wonderful legacy.
    Our love thoughts and prayers are with you,
    Lynn and Rob, Brendan and Hayley

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  11. Trudy Berscheid :

    Dear Aunt Hedy,
    I am sorry to hear of the death of Uncle Clem. I lay in bed tonight, going over my memories of him and there is one funny story that I thought might bring you a smile.
    My earliest memories of Uncle Clem came to me via stories of his service in WWII. He was an aviator before I was born. As a child, I knew he had a plane somewhere and still flew. That put him next to superheroes.
    My mother must have, in trying to distract us kids from some hair-brained activity or another, told us, one time when a small plane was flying overhead, that it might be Uncle Clem. Our very own superhero!? Flying overhead?! Looking down on us!? Out we charged to see if we could tell if it were him or not. Thereafter, every time we heard the sound of an airplane, every kid on site would fly out the back door, through the orchard, and into the road –heedless of vehicular traffic—waving tea towels, handkerchiefs, hoes…whatever came to hand at the moment. If Uncle Clem was taking time to fly over and keep an eye on us, we wanted him to know that his attentions did not go unappreciated.
    We would watch for some sort of acknowledgement that he had seen us, certain every time that he had dipped a wing in greeting. As the plane flew off, we would talk about what it was he might have been doing in the area. Maybe he was even coming to visit.
    One time, we were absolutely ecstatic because, not only had he ‘dipped a wing’, he had circled overhead a couple of times! We kids ran pell-mell down the road hooting and hollering, waving and shouting hello, acting like a bunch of lunatics—so excited, we were. And, there is photographic evidence of this episode, since the plane circling overhead was an entrepreneurial pilot and photographer taking aerial photographs of farmsteads to sell to landowners.
    When Mom was offered this photo for purchase, she thought it was rather nice. We kids were disgusted! We had thought our superhero had been sending a greeting. Instead it was just some imposter in a plane trying to make money. (And yes, we maniacal children are visible on the photo!)
    And now, our aviator superhero is gone. Goodness knows, ‘superheroing’ for all these years must have been a heavy job. He has earned his rest. May he wing his way swiftly and safely to the arms of God.
    Whenever I hear a plane overhead, I will, in my mind, hurl out the door, tea towel waving, head thrown back, call out greetings to Uncle Clem. Wanna’ bet he dips his wing?
    I hope your sorrow is eased just a little by this true story from my bank of childhood memories.
    Trudy Berscheid
    (Laura’s daughter)

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  12. No pen can write, nor tongue tell your sad and bitter loss.
    But God alone has helped so well to bear your heavy cross.
    Be strong in Jesus until meeting the great guy Mr. Gerwing,
    who entered in eternal peaceful life.

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  13. Margaret Cook (nee Jonasson) :

    Dear Linda. Although we have not seen one another for many years, I was so sad to hear that your dad has passed away. The loss of our fathers is difficult and painful, even when they have lived the long, joyful and productive life that is detailed in your dad’s obituary. The love and pride of your family in your dad shines from his obit. Please accept my deepest sympathies for you and your family, and my wishes that your memories of him will sustain you as you grieve. Love, Marg (Jonasson) Cook, Calgary AB

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  14. Craig McClelland :

    I have many fond memories of Mr. Gerwing. One in particular I wish to share in reflecting upon his passing.

    The first time I met Mr. Gerwing was in 1987. I had just finished my first year at Mount Royal College and the prospects for summer employment in my chosen profession were bleak. So I put on my jeans and Alberta Boots and went to Alberta Boot to ask for a job. I remember that day vividly. I met Tim first, who came out of the back room and immediately focused on my choice of footwear. After a short discussion about why I wanted (needed) a job, Tim excused himself and disappeared into the back room. Shortly after, Clem came out and immediately focused on my choice of footwear. After trying to convince them why I could sell their products, Clem advised that I could only truly know how to sell them once I learned how they were made. I was told to “show up on Monday morning at 7 AM” to work in the factory. I guess that meant I was hired on the spot!

    After 4 days of work in the factory the following week, there was an opening to work in sales that Friday evening. I sold 3 pairs of boots that night and did not work in the factory again. My employment at Alberta Boot Co. lasted through the balance of my school years and beyond. I had the good fortune to work there during the 1988 winter Olympics and have many fond memories selling boots and running tours of the factory to the many tourists who came through the door.

    My association with the Gerwings and Alberta Boot came at a very opportune time. I had just embarked upon schooling in a profession that had no jobs at the time, so I was questioning my choice of profession. However, after meeting and working with the Gerwings, I learned many valuable lessons about kindness, hard work and the value of a hand shake agreement. These are values and formative experiences that I continue to reflect on fondly and share with others to this day.

    By the way, I still have those boots I wore the day I asked for that job!

    I hope this story helps a bit and my condolences are extended to the entire Gerwing and Alberta Boot family. Thank you “Mr. G.”

    Craig McClelland

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  15. We are so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. Your parents visited us many years ago in Hegensdorf (Germany), the village Clement Gerwing’s grandfather came from. Our daughter Pia and her husband Christian met him two years ago when they were in Calgary and he showed them the factory.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Maria and Heinz Lummer

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  16. Janie & Bob Smith :

    Linda & Laurie
    We were so sorry to hear of your father’s death, Linda. Please extend our sympathy to all your family.

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  17. Art and Joan Belick :

    Linda and Laurie,
    Very sorry about your Dad’s passing,
    our prayers are with you. xo

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  18. Dear John (and Ruth)- so very sorry to learn of your father’s passing. My thoughts will be with you these next couple of days as you celebrate his wonderful life. With my sincerest condolences, Nancy Hibbs (nee Boswell)

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  19. Dear Hedy and family,

    It saddens me to think about Clem being gone. I enjoyed many card games and socializing with Clem and you over the years.

    Hedy, my thoughts are with you and the family.

    Roy Scott

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  20. Darlene Lindsay and Fred Laudel :

    The Gerwing Family

    So sorry to hear about Clem. Our thoughts are with all of you at this time.

    Our deepest condolences.

    Dar and Freddie

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  21. Carol and Harold Fowler :

    Dear Tim and Family,
    We were saddened to read of your Dad’s passing and want to add our thoughts to those of others. Although we did not know him, we know he raised an outstanding neighbor and friend to the folks in Strathcona. Your tribute to him says so much and you must all be so proud to have had him in your lives!

    Sincerely,

    Carol and Harold Fowler

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  22. Linda and Isaac Rotstein :

    Dear Debby, Bruce, Lindsay and David
    So sorry to hear of the passing of your father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Our thoughts are with you at this sad time.
    Linda and Isaac

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  23. Debbie, Bruce, family, and extended family,
    Debbie, So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. What a heroic Canadian and Albertan. He would have been an interesting man to know. I hope you will share some of his stories with us sometime.
    Cherish the fond memories you have.
    Sincere condolences,
    Brian & Rita Boyd

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  24. Bob & Gladys Alexander :

    Hedy & Family,
    We were sorry to hear of Clem’s passing. Bob valued him as a business partner and enjoyed times with you both and meeting your family. Our thoughts are with you all and know Clem will be greatly missed in your lovely family and his Boot Company.

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