Geraldine A. French

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Geraldine (Gerry) Adeline French left her earthly home to join the love of her life and her lord on Oct. 12, 2020. Gerry was born March 23, 1928, outside Geddes, S.D., to Andrew and Adela (Bartekoske) Shea, the oldest of 14 children.  

Gerry was united in marriage to Kenneth (Kenny) Gene French on March 17, 1955, at Peace United Church of Christ in Elkader. Together, they had seven children: Terry (Dan) Sullivan, Dodgeville, Wis.; Sharon Taylor, Arlington; Jeanne (Mark) Mellon, Guttenberg; Cindy (Steve) Wendl, Anamosa; Jayme French, Manchester; Gary (Jennifer) French, Sydney, Australia; and Merry French, Aurora.

Gerry is survived by her seven children; grandchildren – Lisa (Ben) Stewart, Darrin (Katie) Sullivan, Kenny (Angie) Taylor, Duane Taylor, Aubrey (Josh) Dudley, Michael Mellon, Bridget (Paul) Ehrhardt, Molly Mellon, Joe (Sarah) Wendl, Andy French and Christian French and 18 great-grandchildren; brother Timothy (Arlene) Shea of Tennessee; sisters, Joanne Whittle of Elkader, Rose (Cletus) Meyer of Dubuque, Judy Davies and Patricia Bromley of Florida and Marcy Kelly of Montana.

Those who preceded her to the kingdom of heaven include her beloved husband, Kenny; her parents; brothers, Bernard, Joseph, Frank, Norman and Martin in infancy; and sisters, Evelyn and Vernita.  

Gerry lived in the Geddes and Platte, S.D. area, before moving to northeast Iowa as a teenager. She lived in Volga, where she graduated from high school, then Elkader. Gerry worked a number of jobs including at the Elkader Plating Plant, Dean’s Super Value and Peace Church. She will long be remembered for her service at Peace Church, where she was a custodian, bell ringer, funeral worker and all-around helper. She was a long-time member of Peace United Church of Christ and the American Legion Auxiliary. 

Gerry was a “go-getter” from a young age. She helped raise her younger siblings, before going on to raise her own family. Gerry sewed many of her children’s clothes when they were younger, as well as canning vegetables from her large garden. She was a great cook and her homemade chicken noodle soup and potato salad were favorites among her family. Gerry learned to crochet later in life and made afghans and pillows for all of her children and grandchildren. She enjoyed being outside, animals of all kinds and had a sense of adventure, taking several trips abroad and always being willing to try something new. Family was very important to her and she was always willing to lend a helping hand to her children, grandchildren and others whenever needed. Gerry will be greatly missed by her family and she will be lovingly remembered for the inspiration she was.

Visitation will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18, at Peace United Church of Christ, Elkader. Funeral service will follow at 3 p.m., with Rev. Jon Haack officiating. Inurnment will be at East Side Cemetery, Elkader

Due to COVID-19, attendees are asked to continue physical distancing and wear a mask.

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Elkader is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at

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