Obituary – Mary Gerber

Last Updated on April 15th, 2018

Written by Paul Bomleny
Mary Emily (Bakalar) Gerber, 88, of Princeton passed away Friday, April 13 at OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Centerin Ottawa.  The hope and peace her family has is knowing she is safely home with her Lord and Savior.

          Mary was born October 28, 1929, in Czechoslavakia, the daughter of John and Anna Bakalar.  At the age of 3 her family left Czechoslavakia on a ship headed to America.  One of her first memories, was turning 4 on the boat and having a little party attended by even the Captain.  She always appreciated all that this great land stood for and appreciated the freedoms that they enjoyed by coming to America.

          She graduated in 1947 from Warren Harding High School in BridgeportCT.  At the age of 18, she accepted the Lord as her personal Savior.  This life-changing decision led her from BridgeportCT to ChicagoIL to attend Moody Bible Institute.  She earned her Christian Education Degree from Moody in 1954.  While at Moody, she was the first girls’ counselor for HI-C Clubs in the Chicago area.  It was a position she held during her years at Moody.  After graduation she worked as a counselor at Word of Life Camp.  She then was employed at Northern Trust Company in Chicago until she met and married Rev. Lauren W. Gerber on April 19, 1958.

          Her husband and she were appointed by the Conservative Baptist Home Missions Society as church planters.  They started churches in Iowa and Nebraska, before accepting a pastorate at the First Baptist Church in BradfordIL in January 1967.  They served the Lord there together for almost 25 years.

          Mary was a homemaker making delicious home cooked meals for her family.  They shared many hours talking around the table and just enjoying each other’s company.  She loved to read, and often finished books faster than you could get them to her.  She always had a listening ear, and was often on the phone most of the evening talking and listening to her children tell about their days, their troubles, or their triumphs.  She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother (nanny), sister, and aunt.  She loved her family with a deep love.  Through her whole life she wanted to serve her Lord and was constantly reminded of His goodness and faithfulness.  Her desire was for all of her children and grandchildren to come to know the Lord as their personal Savior.  She knew with her whole heart that then this farewell was only a “so long” and not a good-bye.


Mary will truly be missed by all those that knew and loved her. 

          Surviving are her children:   Rose (John) Wilson of Lacey, WA; Deborah Pease, of Princeton, IL; Cheryl Gerber, of Vernon Hills, IL; Marilyn (Rob) Jensen, of Princeton, IL; Daniel Gerber, of Princeton, IL; and Carol (Tom) Smith of Princeton, IL.  Her grandchildren:  June (Mike) Brown, Scott Eckstein, Dale (Kristine) Eckstein, Rachel Mary Jensen, and Abigail Lauren Jensen; and several great-grandchildren; her dear brothers John Bakalar and Dr. Paul (Nancy) Bakalar.

          She was preceded in death by her husband Rev. Lauren Gerber; her brother, Andrew;her son-in-law, Tony Pease; and, her parents.

          The family would like to thank Pastor John Erickson and Pastor Curtis Odell for their visits, prayers, and comfort.  They would also like to thank Karen Hullinger for her faithful care of both Pastor and Mary for 10 years. 

          A visitation will be held Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Grant-Johnson Funeral Home, Princeton, Illinois. A Funeral service will be held 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at Grant-Johnson Funeral Home, Princeton, Illinois. Burial will be in Elm Lawn Memorial Park, Princeton, Illinois.

          Memorials may be directed to the family for later distribution.

Online condolences may be sent to