Gerry Hernbrode


Geraldine Ann Jones Hernbrode June 13, 1935 - May 10, 2018


Our friend, Gerry Hernbrode. the eldest of seven children, grew up in a big house across the street from Sacred Heart Academy in Missoula, MT. Her prowess on the Academy high school debating team won her many competitions against much larger schools across Montana.


At thirteen, Gerry went to work as switchboard operator and laboratory helper at nearby St. Patrick.'s Hospital. Upon graduation from Sacred Heart, she entered the Religious Order of Sisters of Providence. Later she realized she wanted a family of her own and she left the Order, before taking final vows. Graduate work in education at the University of Arizona brought her to Tucson where she met her first husband, Ed Bush. Their family was complete with their son, John. Gerry taught at a Catholic Elementary School and then Amphitheater School District where her career peaked with great success as principal of Keeling Elementary School. A fierce advocate for classroom teachers, Gerry became active politically and even served as Campaign Manager for a successful State Senator. Her leadership was recognized and Gerry was appointed by Governor Bruce Babbitt to the Arizona State Board of Education. She became vice-chair and served with members like Dr. John Schaefer, President of the University of Arizona and Eddie Basha, owner Basha's grocery chains.


Concerned for the environment, Gerry worked on a state curriculum for teaching Environmental Education. There Gerry met her second husband, Bob Hernbrode and worked with him to make Catalina and Oracle State Park realities.


In retirement, Gerry honed her writing skills with the Local Portal Circuit Writers and published her first book, Provincial Justice, in 2011. A second book awaits publication. Gerry's contributions to the Portal community extended well beyond writing. She was an EMT for 10 years, helped with Library for Kids, worked in the Chiricahua Art Gallery, and was Sew What secretary.


Gerry also volunteered in multiple ways at the Soup Kitchen, including selling raffle tickets to raise funds for Portal Rescue. At Sew What’s major fund-raiser, Oktoberfest, she established a Silent Auction which proved to be highly successful. In election years she coordinated political forums, featuring candidates and ballot measures. Gerry also registered voters and served as an election official.


To honor her lifelong contribution to the community of Portal, in 2016 Gerry was awarded the town’s highest honor - she was was made one of Portal’s Living Treasures.


Her sense of adventure was fulfilled with travels with friends to places as diverse as Ireland, Paris, Hawaii, a canal boat excursion in England and a ferry trip along southern Alaska.


Gerry loved her life and friends in Portal and treasured her dog companions. She is survived by her son John and his wife Luz, granddaughter Selena, sisters Alicia, Susie and Amedee, her brother Jim, and many friends and, of course, her Corgi Sadie.

Howard Topoff 2011