Born Feb. 16, 1916
Paul Leland Gemilere entered the glory of heaven on Nov. 12, 2012 at the age of 96.
His mother was a Hollywood mom taking Paul from tryout to tryout including the Little Rascals. When not at tryouts, he attended piano and dance lessons. He hit the Vaudeville circuit at the age of 6. In his teens, Paul played piano for Jack Benny sidekick, Don Wilson’s weekly radio program. This job helped his family through the Depression. He would later become part of the Big Band era, arranging music for band leader Stan Kenton.
He enlisted in the navy before the start of World War II. His ship left Hawaii one week, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He would serve 37 months aboard the USS Pensacola (CA24), the Grey Ghost, which was torpedoed twice during his deployment. He never talked about his experiences except for an incident where he and several others manned a gun where the crew had been killed. The first time they fired, his ear drum was ruptured. He had no hearing protection and had never fired a large gun.
After the second torpedoing of his ship, he was assigned to Treasure Island for the remaining of the war. He was introduced to his future bride by a shipmate and his future wife’s cousin, Eddie Hendrickson. Eddie told him that, “You’re the squarest thing I know in the Navy and I got the squarest cousin in Iowa. I think you ought to write her.” He wrote her for two years before they met.
He married Esther Bernice Gemilere of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sept 22, 1945, in San Francisco, Calif.
They had three boys, Ronald Paul, Gary Leland and Terry Lee.
After the war, he worked as the personnel officer for the Los Angeles District of the Federal Government, which included the missile program at Edwards AFB. Working for the government gave him hypertension, so in 1960 he began work with Lutheran Brotherhood in Los Angeles as an insurance sales representative. In 1962, he was promoted as general manager of the Ohio district in Columbus, Ohio. He was again promoted in 1965 as regional manager and moved the family to Minneapolis, Minn. He would later take over training of the Lutheran Brotherhood field force, until his retirement in 1980.
He and Bernice moved to Sedona, Ariz. and eight years later would move to Cedar Rapids, to be closer to Bernice’s family. They moved back to Minneapolis, Minn. in 2009 to be close to their surviving sons and grandchildren.
Paul was preceded to heaven by his oldest son, Ronald Paul “Rico” Gemilere.
He is survived by his wife, E. Bernice Gemilere of Saint Louis Park, Minn., sons, Gary Gemilere of Watertown, Minn., and Terry Gemilere of Saint Louis Park, Minn.; grandchildren, Jordan Gemilere and Ryan Gemilere of Saint Louis Park; daughter-in-law, Shirley Gemilere of Wilsonville, Ore.; grandchildren, Mike Crews, Glenn Crews and Sara Jane Campbell; and great-grandchildren, Cody, Kaitlyn and Brandon Crews.
There will be a Memorial Service at Parkwood Shores, 3633 Park Center Blvd., Saint Louis Park, Minn., at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, for Twin Cities’ friends. Please call Parkwood Shores for additional information at (952) 924-0400.
Services at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at the Cedar Memorial Park Chapel of Memories. Burial with military rites at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home, 4200 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Please call Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home for additional information at (319) 393-8000.
Please leave a message or tribute to the Gemilere family on the website, www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.
Published in The Gazette Nov. 13, 2012.