GERHARD, Mark William, of Oakwood, Ohio, was a dedicated coach, devoted son, and beloved guiding force to seven younger brothers and sisters, as well as 13 nieces and nephews. Mark is remembered as a man of focus, generosity, humility, and humor. He died of a brain tumor first diagnosed in May, 2021.
Family will greet visitors Thursday, 8 July 2021 6:00pm-8:00pm, at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 East Stroop Road, Kettering. A Mass of Christian Burial takes place on Friday, 9 July 2021, 10:30am, at Queen of Apostles, 4435 E Patterson Rd, Beavercreek; burial follows at Calvary Cemetery.
The treasured first son of the late William Gerhard and Jean (Reedy) Gerhard, Mark was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1954. The family moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1957 and Mark attended Ascension K-8, then Carroll High School, graduating in 1972, and receiving the Patriot Award for "Athlete of the Year." Mark continued along an athletic path on the cross-country running and wrestling teams at Wright State University, winning the wrestling team's "Raider Award.” He graduated from WSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Math Education with a Data Processing minor in 1977.
Mark's teaching career (2nd and 4th grade at Immaculate Conception Grade School; Carroll High School) lasted only four years before he began work as an Analyst at Reynolds and Reynolds, which lasted forty.
Coaching, however, was Mark's great calling. He began his coaching career at Parkview Swim Club, and also coached high school cross country and track, in addition to wrestling. But it was wrestling that happily consumed most of his time. Mark coached wrestling in various positions at Carroll High School from 1977 through 2021, and over the years, held coaching jobs with the Raider Wrestling Club, North Dayton Wrestling Club, Prodigy Wrestling Academy and the Ohio Junior National Team. He founded the Patriot Wrestling Club in 1981, and the Miami Valley Kids Wrestling Association in 1986, growing it from seven teams to 70 teams, with 3,000 wrestlers. It is the largest youth wrestling program in the state, and one of the largest in the nation. This past year, Mark was determined to create a safe wrestling environment despite the public health obstacles and navigated MVKWA's 39 youth teams with 1,300 wrestlers through a triumphant season.
He directed the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament from 1987-1997 and organized many other wrestling events along the way. In recent times, Mark was selected for the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Hall of Fame, received an award for youth program direction from USA Wrestling, and in March, 2019, Mark received the OHSAA Service Award from the Ohio High School Athletic Association for exemplary dedication to the sport.
Mark's other work, which was at Reynolds and Reynolds, began in 1981 as an Associate Programmer before shifting to a "temporary" assignment in Quality Control. That job lasted for the rest of his life, though the titles changed as he tested a variety of application areas and platforms, hardware and software. Mark enjoyed his nine-to-five work and his colleagues, and he thoroughly appreciated technology itself. He was an early adopter of cell phones and a computer enthusiast who both delighted and puzzled family and friends with new apps and devices while simultaneously avoiding social media and popular fads.
Supremely devoted to his family, Mark shouldered great responsibilities on behalf of his younger siblings when their father died prematurely in 1979, contributing both spiritually and practically to their upbringing. He continued that family leadership role with characteristic good cheer during a number of other emergencies through the decades. He was particularly devoted to the care of his mother, Jean, creating joy-filled final months for her as she was dying from a brain tumor in 2019.
Mark was always looking for ways to improve himself, but took real pleasure in the running, swimming, biking, and hiking that kept him so physically fit. He also enjoyed getting in a car or airplane — and his travels brought him on frequent visits to see siblings near and far, from Medina, Ohio, to Boston, Cape Cod, Tampa, New York, and San Francisco, where he would share stories with his deadpan humor. He regularly served as a tour guide and Dayton area booster when aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters came through town, offering expeditions to the area's new pubs and lush parks no matter how full his wrestling schedule might be.
From an early age, Mark found solace in the quiet, in his spiritual practice as a Catholic, and his explorations in the world of ideas. As a young man, he assembled a small box in his room and labeled it "Wisdom." It was filled with time-honored principles that he would revisit as needed in his early twenties, and pass along to his younger siblings from time to time, sometimes with a laugh. As the years passed, and Mark managed a larger quantity of wrestling, family, and business matters, the number of boxes would grow into an archive of sorts, its overwhelming mass occasionally giving him a chuckle. But in maintaining the boxes, Mark was not just keeping track of the many organizations he grew and building a repository of the ideas he cherished, he was also keeping the faith. Mark encouraged his wrestlers and his family members to stick with a course of action and channel energy in a positive direction. His greatest joy didn’t seem to be in the wins, but in watching qualities of courage, focus, and tenacity grow and flower in those around him.
Mark was predeceased by his father William (1979) and his mother Jean (2019). He is survived by siblings Leo Gerhard (Genie); Marie Gerhard-Herman (Mark Herman); Eileen Castor; Edwin Gerhard (Katie); Karl Gerhard (Yvette); Timothy Gerhard (Katy Silliman); Susan Gerhard (Doug Young). He is survived by nephews and nieces Jonathan (daughter Amelia and son Orion) and Alex (Rebekah Velasco) Gerhard; Mia Herman; Lee, Brandon and Zachary (Reese Riddolls) Castor; Sarah (Pat) Crise (son Noah) and Tommy Gerhard; Samuel and Jakob Gerhard; Jack and Russell Gerhard; and Greyson Gerhard-Young.
“Mark had a gentle soul, but on the inside had a burning desire to do good with all things.”
• Jim Kordik, friend
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy can be shared at routsong.com. Donations in Mark’s memory can be made to the Patriot Wrestling Club, the Miami Valley Kids Wrestling Association, or the Prodigy Wrestling Academy in Mark Gerhard’s name. For more information and ways to donate, please visit their websites.