John Robert Gerdes VALPARAISO - John Robert Gerdes was born to John D. and Helen C. (Black) Gerdes in Lincoln, on Aug. 6, 1933. Along with his older brother, Merl Jaye, they resided on the family farm north of Raymond. John attended country school and graduated, as salutatorian of his class, in 1950 from Raymond High School at the age of 16. He met a local area girl, Marilyn Jeanne Maxson, and they married on June 6, 1954. To their union, while residing in Lincoln, were born Cherlyn Kay and Kevin Dean. John worked at Golds Department Store, had his own construction company, and was an officer on the Lincoln Fire Department for 13 years before moving to Valparaiso in 1969 where they purchased and operated Valparaiso Hardware. They retired from their hardware business in 1997. John continued to assist elders in the area for many years. John loved anything family related - especially his three grandchildren Lindsey, Justin and Brent and his two great-granddaughters Jocelyn and Miley. He was also quite fond of hunting, fishing, vacationing, and making many trips to Branson to visit his personal friend Lecil Travis Martin, also known as Boxcar Willie, with whom he both hunted and played music. John was gifted in music and could play any instrument and sing by ear. He also could repair anything put in front of him. A lover of the Lord, family man, reliable neighbor and friend, John's time here on earth will carry on in the hearts and minds of all those blessed to have known him. Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Marilyn; daughter, Cheri (Randy) Retzlaff; son, Kevin Gerdes, of all of Valparaiso; granddaughter Lindsey (Sidney) Childers of Ceresco; grandsons Justin Gerdes of Lincoln, Brent (Jestina Matulka) Retzlaff of Greenwood; great-granddaughters Jocelyn Gerdes of Lincoln and Miley Childers of Ceresco. Funeral services were held Monday at Raymond United Methodist Church, Raymond. Wadlow-Rozanek Funeral Home of Valparaiso was in charge of the arrangements.