Homer Alaska - Obituaries

Story last updated at 1:55 PM on Friday, August 12, 2011

Lewis T. "Tanner" Gerald

Ninilchik resident Lewis T. "Tanner" Gerald, 33, passed away Aug. 5, 2011, at an Anchorage hospital due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident earlier in the day in Ninilchik.

Tanner was born Oct. 29, 1977, in Ogden, Utah, to Lewis T. "Tom" Gerald and Cheryl Gerald. Tanner was the younger brother of Donald Gerald.


Lewis T. "Tanner" Gerald

Tanner's childhood set the direction for his adult life. While attending a rural school in Pinehurst, Ore., and later Ashland High School in Ashland, Ore., Tanner spent his free time in the surrounding mountains of the Cascade Range learning of the complexities of our natural world, hiking, fishing, hunting, rafting and exploring at every opportunity. He grew up with a rescued wolf pup "Kiska" who became his inseparable companion and guardian as a young boy. If not roaming the wilderness with his older brother, Donald , Tanner would explore with Kiska at his side.

As a young teenager, Tanner learned to work hard to achieve his goals. He began working for a friend of the family's logging business part time at the age of 13 and went on to become a topper and cutter through his high school years on high tension power line maintenance. He apprenticed with his father becoming a master hardwood flooring installer, working in that industry for 10 years. Always the explorer, Tanner eventually set his sights on Alaska moving to Homer and diving into the commercial fishing industry while beginning to explore his new frontier. Several hunting and fishing trips to Alaska in past years with friends had created the desire to explore in Tanner, and he answered the call of the wild, as all who knew him well expected he would.

During his first years in Alaska when commercial fishing was slow, Tanner would install floors for a living. Tanner was able to easily find work to do and eventually was able to obtain a job he loved with Aurora Power Gas & Well Service. It was hard work drilling for oil which suited Tanner just fine. His perseverance in getting that job was a testimony to his refusal to take no for an answer. In a story told by one of Tanner's co-workers, Tanner used to walk to a nearby oil rig every day and ask for work. He was turned down repeatedly but refused to stop showing up at that rig. Eventually he was hired just to see if he could work as hard at a job as he did finding a job. Tanner's work ethic on the oil rigs made him many friends.

This ethic along with his kindness, willingness to lend a helping hand, and positive attitude got Tanner a job with his close friend Steve Beling on Steve's commercial fishing boat as an engineer and deckhand where he worked for years during times when there was no oil drilling in progress.

Work was a necessity for Tanner but so was his time exploring his new frontier – Alaska. That's why he was in Alaska. He wasted no time learning the best salmon runs, hiking trails, beaches to comb, hunting zones, trails to ride, and creeks to gold-pan in. He used to love riding his motorcycle on the beach from Ninilchik to Homer where one frequent stop was a waterfall he enjoyed visiting.

Tanner was comfortable enjoying life and the great outdoors alone but also enjoyed the company of friends. He was great with children and took the time to teach others about their environment and natural world.

Just imagine a mountain man with a laptop and you would be imagining Tanner. At home and comfortable in the wilderness Tanner would research the plants, fish and creatures he saw around him. Keeping in touch with family and friends was important, and Tanner was never reluctant to take a photo or video of something he saw or experienced with his cellphone then send it on to others.

Tanner was an achiever — he achieved most of what he set out to do. He felt that obstacles were something to navigate around – not to stop at. And Tanner's navigating took him right to those places many people seek but never find, the places in our dreams.

Tanner is survived by his daughter, Raychel Gerald, 9; brother, Donald Gerald; father, Lewis T. "Tom" Gerald; Step-Mother, Donita Gerald, and many friends in Oregon and Alaska.

Tanner is predeceased by his mother, Cheryl Osmus, and his beloved wolf Kiska who kept him safe in the woods for so many years as a young boy.

A bonfire memorial is scheduled for Tanner Gerald at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, for family and friends at the beach at Anchor Point.

For his final interment Tanner's ashes will later be taken to Oregon and spread in a private ceremony by family and close friends at a mountaintop location he loved where eagles fly and the view is forever.

His resting place is in all our hearts and memories. His legacy is his daughter, Raychel, who carries his love with her always.

His family wishes to thank all the wonderful friends who have provided support and assistance during this time.

"Tanner lived life well. We celebrate the time we had together. He will be missed," wrote family and friends in his obituary.