The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

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Robert L. "Farmer" Gierl


October 25, 2018

BESSEMER, Mich. - Robert L. "Farmer" Gierl, 87, of Bessemer, passed away peacefully, with his loving family by his side, on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.

Bob was born on Nov. 13, 1930, in Colby, Wis., son of the late Nicholas and Laurina Gierl. He graduated from Colby High School in 1948.

On Sept. 10, 1953, Bob was united in marriage to the love of his life, Arlene Mills. They enjoyed 65 wonderful years together, Arlene survives.

Bob was a butter maker by trade, and was employed by Frome Dairy in Colby, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army on Oct. 25, 1951. Bob proudly served his country in the Korean War with the 45th Infantry, 297th Tank Battalion, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant first class on Aug. 13, 1953. Bob was a tank commander during the Korean War.

Following the war, Bob returned to the Colby Dairy until he moved his family to Bessemer in 1959. Then, he was employed at the Consolidated Dairy for 21 years until its closure in 1980. Bob worked for 12 years at the Gogebic County Road Commission until his retirement.

Bob acquired his nickname, "Farmer," raising his family on his hobby farm in Bessemer, where he raised cattle and pigs and boarded horses for many local residents. He was known for his love of the simple things in life like a day on the lake fishing or a weekend at the hunting camp. He was also known for his "green thumb;" he always had fresh garden veggies and a jar of homemade pickles on the table. Many residents admired the American flag flying high on the top of his bluff, a tradition that is still carried on by family and friends.

Farmer wore many hats for the Bessemer community throughout the years. He served as a volunteer firefighter for 24 years. He, along with his partner, Donald "Patchy" Pucilowski, proudly marched with Marty's Goldenaires for many years, carrying the banner through numerous parades. He was especially proud to have carried the banner when Marty's was invited to Nashville, Tenn., in 2004.

Farmer was a 50-plus year member of the American Legion Post 27 in Bessemer, where he had served as post commander. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3673 in Bessemer.

Farmer really enjoyed dressing up as the "Great Pumpkin" for Halloween festivities in Bessemer, and inspired the hearts of many local children. He was known as "donkey rider" during fundraising events for the fire department, participating in Donkey Basketball at the high school gymnasium.

Recently, Farmer, along with his long-time friend, Ralph Nystrom, had the privilege of being flown to Washington D.C., with the "Honor Flight" for the Korean War veterans.

Farmer was especially fond of spending time at the Rocky Creek hunting camp. He will be dearly missed by all his friends in the Mosinee Grade area. Farmer also enjoyed the time he spent fishing in Sarasota, Fla., and scaring off the pelicans that kept stealing his catch of the day.

Bob was a long-time faithful member of St. Sebastian Parish in Bessemer.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Nicholas and Laurina, and his stepfather, Frank Seidel; a brother, Wilber (Ginger) Gierl; and two sisters, Joanne (Leo) Leffel and Elaine (Jerry) Hebert.

Bob is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Arlene; a daughter, Dawn (Jim) Martell, Sarasota, Fla .; two sons, Randy "Barnum" (Trish), Bessemer, and Chris (Lena), Ramsay; a brother, Ken (Judy), Medford, Wis .; a special family friend, Ward Keller, Placitas, N.M .; and a very special friend, Keith "Skeeter" (Erin) Winkowski, Bessemer.

Bob is also survived by five grandchildren, Carrie (Richard) Frias, Christie Martell, Amie Martell, Stephanie (Michael) Matalone and Dakota Easley; and cherished four great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m., preceded by visitation at 10 a.m., at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 210 E. Iron St., in Bessemer, with the Rev. Dominic Agyapong, celebrant.

Following the Mass, military rites will take place at the church under the auspices of American Legion Post 27 and VFW Post 3673 Honor Guard, assisted by the U.P. Funeral Honors Team.

Luncheon will be served at Father Swoboda Hall at the church following the military rites.

Private Rite of Committal and interment will take place at Hillcrest Cemetery, Bessemer.

Expressions of affection in a charitable contribution in Robert's memory are suggested in lieu of flowers to the American Legion Post 27, or Marty's Goldenaires, 209 N. Moore St., Bessemer, MI 49911.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield. Condolences may be expressed online at


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