This is the Eulog presented at Gerry’s funeral on behave of the HAHCLUB
Gerry Zealand’s HAHC Eulogy
Hello everyone. My Name is Barry Adamson. I am here to tell you about Gerry’s other family. No not one of those stories of multiple wives and kids; just a family of old guys who love old machinery.
I am a member of the Executive Committee of the HOPE AGRICULTURAL HERITAGE CLUB who operate the ANTIQUE MACHINERY CENTRE located in Cavan. Our Gerry was a proud member and was considered one of our best functional ANTIQUES. Yes, I know he was not a piece of machinery, but he knew more about any piece of antique farm equipment than the rest of the club combined.
Going back 20 years or more, when I got involved with the club, there was this old guy Gerry (old is only a reference to their age compared to our own age at any given time). He spent a lot of time at our old facility (the old sand dome) working by himself on lots of equipment, but in particular, an old thrashing machine. This is a huge piece of farm equipment that is longer that 2 cars and as high as transport truck. Gerry would be working on this, using ladders, pump jacks, and just plain climbing all over this monster. This caused many of us to be concerned for his safety … especially his wife the other Gerri worried about him being all alone during this activity. AHAH… not to worry said Gerry, I grew up on this old girl and I am ok. We all just looked and could only say…be careful, you are important to us. He just smiled back.
As years moved on Gerry had to stop climbing ladders. We were all happy about this. Now he started taking younger members under his wing to show them how this beast worked. So, one of our members is a young 6 ft 3 in guy of nearly 300 lbs and he is climbing on the thrashing machine. Oh! is this an improvement? Yes! Gerry was safe on the ground, with his smile and arm pointing while saying “grease that over there”. Yes, Gerry you did train some of the guys how to thrash grain the old fashion way and your knowledge has been passed on. Each summer when we drag Gerry’s machine to the field, I know Gerry will be smiling down on us and say, keep that belt tight.
Smiling is important to say because among so many of us we called our Gerry “Smiley”. In my own family even my 10-year-old grandson knew who SMILEY was. My wife, Brenda, asked Gerry one day “Were you always this smiley. Gerry said, “hell no, as a man living on a farm with 5 women and only one toilet, I was not always happy”.
Another little story about our Gerry that comes to mind is when we had a guest speaker talking about the old days and the trains of Port Hope. Gerry pipes up with “I used to ride that train to school every day”. Now that is first hand knowledge. Indeed, Gerry knew a lot about many things.
Gerry was on our board directors where he helped shape our thinking and build our new heritage centre. He always came to our open house, sold hundreds of our draw tractor tickets and shared stories with guests on how they use to do things in the real old days.
In recent years we all looked after Smiley. Brenda would cater an event and say Gerry, you can eat this but don’t touch that. We knew to look after his diabetes. But, of course it did not stop Gerry from having a light beer with the boys at the end of an event. But only one now Gerry.
So, Gerry Zealand family, from the HAHCLUB, we THANK YOU for sharing this wonderful man with us. We have been truly blessed to have him as part of our family. All of us will miss his SMILE which warmed every place he went.
When we start the old thrasher up this year we will all say thanks to you Gerry for making it possible.
Good-bye Smiley and Thank You!