Obituary of Albert "Al" Gerard GERRITSEN
Albert Gerritsen of Calgary, passed away on Monday, April 26, 2021 at the age of 80 years.
Albert signed his art simply as “Al”, usually carved into his favourite medium - wood. His art reached into the daily lives of countless Albertans, especially through his robust and expressive murals and religious pieces at Catholic schools and churches. His work revealed a world of compassion, service, and joy – we are all marked by that simple “Al” carved on our hearts.
On April 26, 1951 the Gerritsen family, eleven siblings; Herman, Doris, Ann, Maria, Hedy, John, Frank, Ben, Joyce and Paul, with 10-year old “Bertie” right in the middle, and two brave parents, Albert and Maria, posed for a photo for the local Deventer paper. They then boarded the ship, Castel Bianco, to emigrate from the Netherlands to the sugar beet fields of Southern Alberta. Al loved reading and learning all of his life, but left school at a young age to help with his father’s gardening business. As a young man, he became a Franciscan Friar, serving in California at Mission San Miguel and Mount St. Francis in Cochrane, Alberta.
He left the Order to marry Nancy, and have his two daughters, Rebecca (Patrick) and Jennifer (Raj), and then after the divorce, raised them as a single Dad. As a Grandpa to Rebecca and Patrick’s daughters, Ruby and Elly, he invited two more little blonde girls into his workshop, home and heart. He was shy, independent, and liked to spend hours alone – and yet he gathered an amazing community of devoted friends. Despite his illness, he delivered his last commissioned piece of art to a Calgary elementary school in the fall of 2020.
On April 26, 2021, on the 70th anniversary of his immigration, he passed away after a long illness with skin cancer. He was at home, steps from his workshop, cared for by his family and the kind staff of Palliative Home Care.
Respectful of the risks of the pandemic, Al requested we have a Mass for him once it is safe to gather in numbers. In the meantime, his daughters will host an online celebration of his life soon, please respond if you would like an invitation.
In lieu of flowers, donations directly to Calgary Catholic Immigration Society at 1111 11 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0G5, https://www.ccisab.ca/donate.html