Gerald (Gerry) J. Besl, age 91, of La Crosse, died Friday, November 27, 2015 at his home surrounded by his loving family. He was born on September 10, 1924 to George and Magdalena (Zeimentz) Besl. He married Bernie Ghelfi on July 16, 1949 at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in La Crosse.
Gerry enlisted in the US Army after graduating from Aquinas High School in 1942 at the age of 18. He was captured at The Battle of the Bulge on December 18, 1944. He was held as a prisoner of war in Germany until late April, 1945.
When he came back home, he went to barber school in Eau Claire, WI. He and his wife, Bernie, settled in La Crosse where they raised their five children. Gerry owned and operated Gerryâ€™s Barber Shop on the Northside of La Crosse for 45 years. He served 18 years on the La Crosse County Board and 10 years on the board of the La Crosse Center.
Gerry is survived by his wife Bernie, three daughters; Paulette (Jim) Weber of La Crosse, Marianne Frost of La Crosse, Beth (Patrick) Foley of Fishers, IN., two sons; George (Lori) Besl of La Crosse, Joseph (Julie) Besl of La Crosse, eleven grandchildren; Adam, Katie, Andy, Annie, Jared, Kelly, Jordan, Dustin, Sam, Jake, and Laynie, and seven great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Sylvester Besl, and four sisters; Evelyn Holberg, Lucille Groth, Rosie Gilbertson and Virginia LaFleur; and one granddaughter, Abby Frost.
The world has lost a wonderful man. He was so many things to so many people. Husband, Dad, Grandpa, â€œGrandpa Greatâ€ and friend. He was the most respectful, loving husband, firm but fair dad, wise and mushy grandpa! Heâ€™d get choked up just by looking around our home at Christmas, so proud of the family he and Mom created. A true American hero, he instilled a love for our country in all of his children and our children. Weâ€™ve never taken for granted what he fought so steadfastly to maintain: Freedom.
We are blessed and proud to call Gerry Besl Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Grandpa Great and Friend. To the first man we ever loved, we will miss you and love you forever.
A funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at St. James the Less Catholic Church, 1032 Caledonia Street, in La Crosse. Msgr. Roger J. Scheckel will officiate. Family and friends may call from 9:00 AM until the time of Mass at Church on Tuesday. Entombment with Military Honors by the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post 52, will be held at the Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse, Wis.
Memorials are preferred to Aquinas High School in La Crosse, St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, and Mayo Clinic, 800 West Ave. South, La Crosse.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the wonderful caring staff of the Internal Medicine Department at The Mayo Clinic