Ernest and Rosemary Gerstner’s 60-year union withstood a world war, raising four children, work separations, and the Internal Revenue Service. And, it all began with a whistle.
The Hayes, Kan. grade school acquaintances’ romance began with Ernie and his Catholic boys’ school classmates whistling as Rosemary strolled by them. Their marriage was fast tracked three years later just before his mother’s death and his deployment with the 96th Infantry to the Pacific theater in 1942. The master sergeant and his bride didn’t see one another again for almost three years.
Upon Ernie’s return, they began their family, and his career as a Colonial Pipeline superintendent brought them to Atlanta. Rosemary says a challenge during their marriage was his frequent work travels, but through everything they genuinely enjoyed one another and their children.
When their youngest daughter was four and though “working mothers” were less common then, Rosemary, 42, decided to go work with the IRS because “after the children were off to school and the house was cleaned, what else was there to do?” She worked as a supervisor for 17 years, during her tenure the IRS went to computer systems. She was able to “balance” it all with a neighbor’s help, summer furloughs and Ernie’s support.
After retiring, Rosemary volunteered at St. Joseph’s Hospital for ten years before they moved to Conyers in 1995. To this day, at 92-years-young, and for the last 19 years, she volunteers every Tuesday at Rockdale Medical Center’s Birth Place desk.
Ernie passed away in 2003, and she still misses him every day, but “treasures the life and family they built.” It also includes eight grandchildren, five greats and one great-great. Rosemary lives with her son, Greg, in Conyers and is close by to her daughter, Linda, and son-in-law, Dr. Michael Manning.
Her “secrets” for their long, strong and happy marriage centered on faith:
• “We didn’t argue or raise our voices very much.”
• “Regular Friday night dinner dates.”
• “He was neat and tidy.”
• “He always remembered my birthday and our anniversary with flowers and candy.”
Husbands everywhere, kindly take note.