Garrett (Garry) Kamerling passed away on April 22, 2023 at age 96. He is survived by his wife Anne de Vroome, son Mark Kamerling, stepdaughters Kimberly Norden and Tamara Brognano, and grandchildren Max Ignatowski, Victor Ignatowski, Joseph Brognano, Patrick Brognano, and Carolyn Brognano. He is preceded in death by his son John Kamerling.
Garry was born on July 26, 1926 to John and Grace Kamerling, the youngest in a family that included big sisters Ruth and Grace. He grew up in Milwaukee, WI, and enjoyed summers spent swimming and sailing with his cousins at the family cottage on Lac La Belle. Garry served in the US Navy before pursuing his BS and MS in Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He began his professional career in research and development in the aircraft industry in California.
Before long, though, Garry was called to ministry, and attended seminary in San Francisco. During this time, he met and married Jessie Malchose. Garry was ordained as a Presbyterian (USA) minister, and served his first congregation in Silver City, New Mexico, where his family grew to include sons John and Mark. The Kamerlings moved to Wisconsin, where Garry led congregations in Wisconsin Dells and Beaver Dam. Garry’s warm smile appears in the photo albums of many of his congregants—from the over 200 weddings he officiated, the many baptisms he performed, and the multiple youth service trips he led to Colorado.
Garry attended the Chicago Theological Seminary and received a Doctor of Ministry degree as part of his transition from pastoral ministry to chaplaincy. He served as a hospital chaplain at Children’s Memorial and Grant hospitals in Chicago, and filled his free time with sailing on Lake Michigan. During a 1986 visit to his childhood church in Milwaukee, his cousin Jim and wife Char introduced him to the church organist, and after a long-distance courtship, they married in 1987. Garry relocated to join Anne in Glendale, and spent the final years of his career establishing a chaplaincy program at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
In retirement, Garry traveled all over the world with his wife Anne; sailed on his boat the Yin-Yang on Lake Michigan; helped care for his grandsons Max and Victor during their infancy and preschool years; preached and ministered part-time; and helped Anne tend her ever-enlarging garden.
Garry will be remembered for his kindness, humor, thoughtfulness, constancy, and strength—as a pastor; as a chaplain; as a friend; as a man of faith; and as a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He cared about his community, his country, and the health of our planet, and he worked to make the world a better place. Garry’s chosen closing statement: “Thanks be to God for the gift of life with a loving family, good friends, and opportunities to reach out to others.” Amen!
A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, May 6, 2023 at Krause Funeral Home, located at 9000 W. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee. A time to visit with friends and family begins at 1:30 p.m. Donations in Garry’s memory can be made to the United Performing Arts Fund (upaf.org/donate) or to the Church World Service (cwsglobal.org/donate).