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Reinhold "Ron" Herman Wilhelm Gerstenberg

Ron died peacefully on September 27, 2020, after a nine-month battle with cancer. He was 83. He was born in Buffalo, NY to German immigrant parents, Wilhelm and Gertrude Gerstenberg. Ron was proud of his heritage and took all of his children and grandchildren to Germany to see where his parents were born and raised. When he was five years old, his parents moved to the San Diego area in order to be near relatives. After graduating from Sweetwater High School, Ron had a partnership in a sand and gravel business, which he eventually sold, and then worked in the missile industry. In 1958, he married Jean Kindred and they had three children: Deborah (Ed Hernandez), Dawn (Kenneth Cagle), and Greg (Jennifer). Ron was not satisfied with his job so he took classes at Southwestern Community College at night to get his AA degree. In 1964, he moved his young family to Eureka, CA so that he could take Wildlife Management classes at Humboldt State where he received his BS and Master’s Degrees. Ron was then hired by Reedley College as they needed someone to start a Forestry Program. He is probably best remembered for all that he did to make this program successful. Not only did he write curriculum, but he also started plant collections, wildlife collections, wrote a plant identification book and, most importantly, became involved in his students’ lives by counseling them and helping them find meaningful jobs. He and Jean camped extensively throughout the western US, and wherever they went, they encountered Reedley College students. Through these travels, he introduced his three children to outdoor adventures and the love of nature. While at Reedley College, Ron became involved in the Central American/Caribbean Scholarship Program, taking students on field trips, fishing at Pine Flat Lake, and eventually visiting them in their home countries. It was through this program that he became the “adoptive” father for Ingrik Abreu. He visited the Dominican Republic on several occasions to spend time with Ingrik and her family. Ron was an avid fisherman who enjoyed seeing the smile on his wife’s face when he came home with the fish of the day. He was a dove and duck hunter who spent many early mornings trudging through fields and mud with his son, grandson, and buddies. He was also a serious bird watcher who kept both a “life list” and a “yearly list” of all the birds he had seen. This is how he obtained his nickname “G-bird”. After retirement, he became active in the Alta Historical Society, took up wood carving and continued his world-wide travels. He was a life-long member of the Lutheran Church, held many positions at First Lutheran Church in Dinuba, and had a close relationship with his Lord and Savior. Ron truly loved and enjoyed his family at every stage. Besides his loving wife of 62 years and his three children, he is survived by his grandchildren: Rena Cardenas (Chris), Tiffany York (Adam), Brandon Cagle, Rochelle Cagle, Sydney Gerstenberg, Jack Gerstenberg, and Kendra Gerstenberg. Great-grandchildren: Hayden York, Olivia Cardenas, and Adrian Cardenas. He is also survived by his brother and sister, John Gerstenberg and Helga Hall. Ron set up a stipend through Reedley College as a way to continue supporting the school and students. A selected Forestry student(s) will be paid through this stipend to maintain the departments’ collections and equipment. A private graveside service will be held with Ron’s immediate family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to this stipend: Reedley College Foundation, c/o Ron “Mr. G” Gerstenberg Stipend, P.O. Box 227, Reedley, CA 93654.

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On my way home from the beach celebrating my 65 years, I noticed a gaggle of snow geese! I practically went of the ditch from the highway to gawk like a few others! It reminded me of Reedley Forestry days and our scenic drives to and from the Sequoia National or wherever Mr. Gs agenda was for our field trip! It saddened me when I found out that he had passed after I tagged him on Facebook! It was then that I learned hes been gone ten days after my best friend! I was also surprised that after her memorial, another forester told me that Mr G had died and I insisted that his colleague Mr Bemis was having or had a memorial service in October Honestly havent been snooping on Facebook much (even though Im posting daily). I miss my younger days and have the fondest memories as a forester and wished I had kept a journal and took lots of photos like Mr. Gerstenberg did! The photo of the hawk Im pretty sure I took after we had released him from the nets for tagging one very, very early morning! We werent sure to laugh when Mr G just finished telling us that the hawks beak was sharp as he pointed at it then surprisingly, pecked and drew blood on Mr Gs pointer finger! Whenever I see birds, I often remember one of my favorite professor! Very fond memories of a great man! Nell Caasi Kober Reedley College Forestry Management 1975-1977, 1979 AS

NellCKober Feb 13 2021 6:47 AM

Reinhold was the best brother in law I could ever ask for, will always remember our times together. With all my love, June Howington

june howington Oct 7 2020 8:13 PM

My deepest condolences to Jean and the entire family. I was never a student of Ron's, but Mrs Gerstenberg was my creative writing teacher in high school, and we heard many wonderful stories of Ron and his love of nature. You will all be in my prayers. Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis Oct 6 2020 10:03 PM

My condolences to the Gerstenberg family in Mr. Gerstenberg's passing. I was a forest/park technician student in the mid 70's, and had Mr. Gerstenberg for a number of classes. I always enjoyed his classes because he had such passion in his teaching about our natural resources. I always enjoyed the fieldtrips we went on outside of the classroom. Thank you, Mr. G.

Richard Laine Oct 3 2020 4:24 PM