It is with the utmost sorrow that we inform you of the death of Gerald Francis Keating, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather on Tuesday 20th July at the Russell Health Centre. Gerald fought his cancer bravely and kept his humanity throughout his ordeal. He died in peace with his adored Kathleen by his side.
The bald facts of Gerald’s life are these: Born in Silver Creek on 13 March 1934 to William and Annie E Keating, the youngest of 5 children. He attended Stratford School and Russell High School, where he won a Governor General’s Award for Academic Achievement in 1951. With his older brother Lyle, Gerald made the controversial (at the time) purchase of a Caterpillar tractor, which became the start of a very successful road construction business. Lyle and Gerald, who were good friends as well as brothers and business associates, successfully launched various endeavours, including raising cattle, and the purchase and operation of a John Deere dealership in 1975 and sold in 1995. Gerald married Helen Louise Strahl of Minnedosa in 1958, and they had five children: David (Tracey), Lori (Barrie), Holly (Jan [d 2016] and Dion), Amy (Jeff) and Mark (Claudia). In turn, his children provided him with 10 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren: Jessica (Russell) children Autumn & Waylon; Brett (Samantha) and son Crew; Sarah (Dustin) son Finnley; and Luke. Hannah (Nick) children Jack and Wynn; Jenny and Jess. Astrid (Kyle) children Anna and Luka; Angela and Marina. Gerald and Helen loved to travel and they made trips around the world frequently, always meeting new people and making new friends wherever they went.
In 1986 Gerald embarked on a round-the-world flight with David McCulloch setting a new record for world speed on the westbound route with his class of plane. Helen died on September 25, 1998, and Gerald had the great good fortune to meet and fall in love with Kathleen Fieseler; they were married on June 17, 2000. Along with his business partner, eldest son David, Gerald then began his development of a golf course with cottages and other facilities at Lake of the Prairies, and named it Prairie Lake Lodge. Gerald never had a traditional retirement, but continued working on PLL and other projects until he died.
None of these words begin to do justice to the life and character of Gerald. He was a larger than life figure, and his charm was as big as the world. Always curious about everything and everyone he encountered, Gerald had the gift of an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. It seemed that all he encountered interested him, and he was always trying to understand more and more of the world around him. This contributed to him being exceptionally good company and people loved being around him. He told good stories. He loved to laugh. He teased his family remorselessly, some family jokes carrying on over years. Gerald loved his family, loved the prairies, loved his life.
Truly, he was a good prairie man. Physically strong, Gerald always kept his sense of humour and saw any obstacles in his way as problems to be solved. Very little got him down, or got him down seriously. He was always ready for some roughhousing, or to go out visiting, or jetting around the world. He was compassionate, and realistic and always ready to lend a helping hand whenever asked.
The world is poorer without Gerald, and his loss will be deeply felt by those who knew him. He was a pure prairie man, embodying the virtues of hard work and fair play. He worked hard and loved with his whole heart. Nothing will ever make up for his loss to his family and his beloved Kathleen.
Gerald’s book ‘85 Years of Prairie Living’ continues to be sold at Reavie’s Pharmacy in Russell and at the Russell Health Centre. All proceeds from the book’s sale go to Expanding Community Cancer Care. Family also requests in lieu of flowers donations be made to the same.
The Keating family thanks everyone who supported Gerald and us during this difficult time. The gift of your love and strength has meant the world to all of us.
To send flowers to Gerald's family, please visit our floral store.
Expanding Community Cancer Care
Russell Heath Centre, Bag Service 2, Russell MB R0J 1W0