Monday, May 19, 2014
A former Roman Catholic priest from Budleigh, who has died aged 93, will be remembered as someone who was always available for those in need.
Reverend Father George Gerry served as priest at the Church of St Peter, Prince of Apostles, for nearly 30 years, continuing to occupy the role into his 90s.
Born in Glasgow on October 1, 1920, George joined the Royal Navy at the start of World War Two.
His wartime service proved to be eventful, as his role as a signal man saw him posted to Singapore during its capture by Japan.
After the fall of Singapore, George’s mother received a telegram saying he was missing, presumed dead, but in fact he had escaped to the jungle, and after several months managed to make his way to safety in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
After the war he studied for the priesthood, and after his ordination in 1954 he served in Tiverton, Weymouth, Devonport and Portland, before arriving to serve as parish priest in Budleigh in 1982 – a position he would hold for close to three decades.
Having celebrated his 90th birthday in 2011, he was finally forced to give up preaching because of ill health, but was allowed to continue residing at the presbytery until his death on May 7.
Sister-in-law Betty Gerry said: “He got on well with people, and he was very good at always being available for people. He would regularly visit the sick and people who were dying.
“Everybody thought such a lot of him. He was a good priest but very in touch with everybody, and a very down to earth person.”
Away from the priesthood, Betty says George was devoted to his family, including his late brothers, Frank and Betty’s husband Gus, his sisters Gwen and Veronica, and his nieces and nephews.
“He was a big part of the family. He was always interested in what his nephews and nieces and everybody was doing.
“Everybody thought the world of him because he was such a lovely person.”
There will be a Requiem Mass for Father Gerry held at Our Lady, Help of Christians and St Denis Church in Torquay on Tuesday, May 20 at 12pm.
In a sign of the esteem in which he was held by the Diocese of Plymouth, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Mark O’Toole, is expected to lead the mass, with Bishop Emeritus Christopher Budd and many diocesan priests also expected to attend.