Gerald Roepke, 80

Gerald E. “Beans” Roepke, age 80, of New Germany, passed away Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, at the Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.

A funeral service will take place Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 510 Broadway Street E. in New Germany.

Visitation took place Thursday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 8 p.m. and one hour prior to the service on Friday, Dec. 3, all at the church.

Interment will take place at St. Mark Lutheran Cemetery.

Casket bearers are his grandchildren.

Arrangements are with the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia; 952-442-2121; www.johnsonfh.com.

Gerald Ewald Roepke was born July 11, 1941, in Watertown, MN, the son of Ewald and Alma (Burdorf) Roepke.

He was baptized Aug. 10, 1941, and confirmed April 3, 1955, both at St. Mark Lutheran Church in New Germany, where he was a lifelong member.

Gerald grew up on the Roepke brothers’ farm near New Germany. His parents raised him to follow the Lord and keep his faith at the center of his life.

Gerald was united in marriage June 15, 1963, to Karen Kohls at St. Mark Lutheran Church in New Germany.

Gerald served the Lord in a variety of ways at St. Mark. He held many offices, which included serving as an elder, trustee, and president of the congregation. He was also an active member of various organizations at St. Mark, including choir, Lutheran Layman’s League, and the dartball team.

Gerald’s education began at St. Mark Lutheran, a two-room schoolhouse, serving grades one through eight. Along with a spiritual and academic education, Gerald learned English as a second language, since he was only fluent in German at the time of his enrollment.

His education continued at Central High School in Norwood Young America.

His love of sports began as he discovered his athletic ability, competing in football, basketball, and baseball. He continued his love of basketball at St. Cloud State University, where his team made it to the national tournament.

Gerald participated in basketball leagues surrounding the New Germany area after his time spent in St. Cloud. He also enjoyed coaching at St. Mark Lutheran School, and Mayer Lutheran High School.

His true love, or “second wife,” as Karen would refer to it, was baseball. Beans played first base for the New Germany Dutchmen for 29 years.

He brought along his homemade wooden bat Sunday afternoons throughout the summer, playing alongside his teammates who became his lifelong friends.

The Dutchmen had many successful seasons. In 1993, Beans was inducted into the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, where his powerful home run hitting legacy was celebrated.

After retiring from the Dutchmen, Beans didn’t slow down. He participated in a 35-and-over softball league. After adding horseshoe to the list of sports he enjoyed participating in, he sponsored a team in New Germany, and played for many years.

Not only was Beans active in athletics, through which he claims he learned many life lessons, he also engaged in community organizations. He was a member of the New Germany Fire Department for 29 years. His love for his community was shown through his involvement of enhancing New Germany through his membership of the Commercial Club. Gerald’s service as a member included hanging Christmas lights in the town for 60-plus years.

His leadership extended outside of New Germany. He was elected to serve on the Rural Electric Board at McLeod Power for 27 years. He also served as the Regional 7C Baseball Commissioner for 20 years.

Kohls Hardware Plumbing and Heating, Gerald’s business, was located in New Germany. He served customers in the surrounding area alongside his wife, Karen. After closing the hardware store in 2001, he continued to provide plumbing and heating services out of his rural home.

Gerald and Karen, who have been married for 58 years, shared the love of music. This enjoyment led them to follow many classic country bands in the local area, as well as Branson and Nashville. They also followed polka bands at local events, as they had always been fond of their German heritage.

Gerald loved his family. He enjoyed spending time with his kids, Eric, Paul, Mary, and Nathan. He supported them in their various hobbies and interests, encouraged them to push harder, and most importantly, taught them to keep the Lord at the helm of their lives.

Gerald was preceded in death by his parents, Ewald and Alma Roepke; uncle and aunt, Walter and Laura Roepke; cousin, Arnie Roepke; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Victor and Violet Kohls.

Gerald is survived by his loving family: wife, Karen; children, Eric Roepke, Paul (Julie) Roepke, Mary (Doug) Stuedeman, Nathan (Sherry) Roepke; grandchildren, Braedy Roepke, Rachel Roepke, Matthew Roepke, Alex Stuedeman, Cole Stuedeman, Kaelyn Roepke; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Craig and Roz Kohls; cousins, Carolyn and David Effertz, Harvey Roepke, Lynn Roepke; nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.

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