It was a devastating winter and spring for Al Gerl.
The Town of Dunn man was given the unexpected news that his daughter, Yvette, was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Six weeks later, Feb. 23, the 48-year-old mother of two died.
Fast forward another six weeks to April 9, and Gerl’s 51-year-old son, Scott, died of prostate cancer, a diagnosis he had battled for more than a year.
“Just to lose two kids to cancer is such a short time, it’s overwhelming,” Al Gerl said. “I never had a chance to grieve for my kids.”
Al and Vera Gerl have been divorced many years now, but she still lives in Madison, and both were constant visitors to both children in their final months.
“They would do anything for anybody,” Al Gerl said. “Both were strong people. They knew what they were dealt, but both were strong right up until the time they died.”
In early winter Yvette Gerl, who worked out three times a week at a local fitness club, had a sore back she thought was from exercise.
Initial doctor visits showed nothing, Al Gerl said. Two weeks later, he took her to the emergency room, and she was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. She considered radiation, but tests and scans two weeks later showed the cancer had doubled in size in her liver and pancreas. She was given just weeks to live, and she lasted about four.
Yvette Gerl spent the last 14 years working as a showroom consultant at Ferguson in McFarland. Ferguson is a wholesale distributor of plumbing, HVAC, waterworks, fire protection and facility supplies.
“Yvette was one in a million with a strong work ethic,” said Michelle Cusack, general manager at Ferguson. “She definitely was a work hard/play hard employee who was always willing to go above and beyond to help her fellow co-workers and our customers.”
Cusack was devastated when she found out about Yvette Gerl’s cancer.
“I remember that phone call as if it was yesterday,” Cusack said. “She was always so worried about her brother that it didn’t seem real to be happening to her. After a few weeks, we all got the news that she had stage four pancreatic cancer, which was hard for all of us. She was a fighter to the very end and was so positive every time any of us saw her.”
Cusack said Gerl is still remembered every day.
“I went to go see her the week before she passed,” she said. “She was still in great spirits on this day, and we all just chatted about everyday life. We wanted things to be as normal as they could for her.
“After that visit, her and I exchanged a few messages back and forth and then the following Saturday, she passed away. She is missed by all of us. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her or something reminds us of her.”
Yvette Gerl’s older daughter, Stephanie, lives in McFarland and works at the local Kwik Trip. Autumn, 14, is the younger daughter.
Al Gerl made a handful of repairs to his daughter’s condo at The Landing on Bridge Road in Madison and recently sold it. He was named the financial guardian for his younger granddaughter.
Al Gerl is still going through his son’s belongings. Scott Gerl lived above the Green Lantern in McFarland.
“He was always fishing off the Babcock pier,” Al Gerl said. “Scott had lots of mounts from fishing and hunting. I’m still trying to find people to take his mounts, whether it’s the turkey, pheasant, fish or deer.”
Al Gerl is a Vietnam War veteran, and Scott was an avid enthusiast about the histories of Gettysburg, World War II and the Vietnam War.
“He was a walking encyclopedia,” Al Gerl said. “He didn’t know everything, but he knew a little about everything.”
Tom Binger, co-owner of the Green Lantern, knew Scott Gerl for about a decade.
“He was a big hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman,” Binger said. “He was a genuinely nice young man. He was really a nice here wasn’t a mean bone in his body.”
And he said Scott Gerl loved to talk.
“He would be sitting around or even working, and he would just start talking about anything and everything,” Binger said.
The father and son were longtime painting and drywalling con-tractors in Monona and McFarland.
Scott Gerl had no insurance when he fell off a ladder getting his deer stand.
After he became eligible for BadgerCare, he returned to the doctor and was told he had stage four prostate cancer.
He was given a few months to live.
“He just kept fighting it,” Al Gerl said. “He was always cheery. He was amazing.”
Scott Gerl lived 16 months after the getting the diagnosis.
Both Scott and Yvette Gerl died at home, and both were cremated.
Al Gerl has their ashes by his bedside until he decides on their final resting place.
Scott Gerl and Yvette Gerl would both be celebrating their birthdays in August.