×

Rolling Oaks Funeral Home

400 Freeport Pkwy, Coppell, TX

OBITUARY

Walter Geercken

25 December, 193128 June, 2020
Play Tribute Movie

Walter Geercken was born on December 25, 1931 in Hamburg, Germany, the only child of Joachim Walter and Maria Geercken. He died this past Sunday on June 28, 2020, after surviving with pancreatic cancer for more than three years.

Walter grew up in wartime Germany, for the most part separated from his family, and was determined to leave Germany as soon as he was able. Walter’s opportunity came in early 1953, when he departed on a freighter for the United States with nothing more than his training as a nurseryman and gardener. Upon arriving in New York, his goal was to continue his education and training in horticulture by working in nurseries in the New York area in the spring and summer seasons, and in florists in the fall and winter months. That training was interrupted only by his stint in the U.S. military in the mid- to late 1950s, after which he succeeded in becoming a U.S. citizen (one of the proudest days of his life). He then continued his work as a nurseryman and florist, ultimately meeting his wife of 58 years, Mary, while he worked as a florist and she as a cashier at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Mary was a recent Irish immigrant and devout Catholic. Although not a Catholic until baptized and confirmed on his death bed, Walter was a spiritual man and strong supporter of the Catholic church. Mary’s large Irish family embraced Walter and he them. Through his work, he happily beautified the gardens and homes of the entire family.

Together Walter and Mary built a life for themselves on the south shore of Long Island in the Village of Freeport where Walter worked as a nurseryman and gardener at the Atlantic Nursery for more than 40 years. He helped grow the Nursery with his closest friends – including Sig Feile, Hans Goldhagen and Rudi and Wolfgang Harbauer – who became more like family. At the same time, Walter and Mary raised three children and became active members of the Freeport community, hosting foreign visitors, becoming exchange parents to a young Australian, Nick Murfett, and volunteering at and supporting Our Holy Redeemer Church. Walter was also a dedicated Rotarian and served as his chapter’s President. When he finally retired, he joined Mary at the soup kitchen volunteering. During his early days in New York, both the Salvation Army and the YMCA helped him. He did his best to return the favors he received by routinely taking his turn at the bell every Christmas season and providing financial support and free gardening services to the YMCA when he was established.

In later years, Walter and Mary moved to Langhorne PA, and later to Lewisville, TX, where they became active members of those communities, attending the local churches (St. Ignatius in Langhorne and St. Ann’s in Coppell). Walter was awarded Volunteer of the Year at the Fairless Hills YMCA, receiving a special commendation from the governor, and he contributed and designed plantings for several other organizations and friends. Thanks to Walter’s efforts, the grounds of each of those was left more beautiful than before his arrival. Aside from his profound focus on the cultivation of living plants, the nurturing and education of his children and his grandchildren were of primary concern. To quote the grandchildren, “Opa always respected our intelligence, listened to our concerns and shared knowledge and ideas all through his life.”

Mary predeceased Walter by two weeks on June 13. After saying goodbye to Mary and getting his affairs in order, he joined her this past Sunday on June 28. Walter is survived by their children and their respective spouses, Maria and Chris Herrel, Karl and Monica Geercken (née Mukherji) and Elisabeth and William Daron Cole; their grandchildren: Phillip Anil Geercken, Sean Walter Geercken, Christopher Gerard Herrel, Julia Frances Herrel, Kenneth William Cole, Ryan Charles Cole, Nikolas Walter Cole and Martin Patrick Cole; cousin, Hans Juergen Geercken and his wife Hannelore Geercken, cousin Joern Henze, Gisela Vollert, wife of Siegfriend Vollert, his cousin and their many nephews and nieces.

Walter loved his family and his work. In lieu of sending his surviving family flowers on the occasion of his passing, the family would prefer that you send flowers or a plant to someone you love. Walter’s charity of choice was Catholic Charities.

Services

  • Visitation

    Monday, 6 July , 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Monday, 6 July , 2020

Memories

Walter Geercken

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Paul Basquill

July 6, 2020

Our families did not meet very often, but you made a lasting impression on all of us. A wonderful man and we all miss you.
Breda, Paul, Ruth, Joe, Sarah, Dan

Nicholas Murfett

July 4, 2020

Walter Geercken is one of the finest people I have ever met.

When I first met him in 1979 as a 17 year old Rotary Exchange Student from Tasmania when I stayed with his family, I didn't see how extraordinary he was, nor I am embarrassed to say, for some years after.

I was young, excited and impressed by the glitter which America had to offer. But that was not the world Walter excelled in.

His excellence was in the world of small deeds, done quietly and with anonymity. Of quietly, doing what was right and beyond, without telling anyone about it. He did or more correctly gave more to his employors and work mates than was required or expected. He loved his work. He gave more to his community than others. Through Rotary. Through the Salvation army and others.
He gave more to his family than most fathers, in ways that count. Taking careful and deliberate interest in their schoolwork and progress; hands on helping with school projects; kindly mentoring; playing with them. I remember fondly many games of ping pong in the basement with him and Karl, filled with our ridiculous banter.
Even though I did notice these things at the time, I didn't see that all his actions were imbued with a sense of service, compassion , humility and honesty. I have never met anyone who better exemplified these qualities than Walter. He would not criticise others preferring to say and believe the best of them. He expected to serve others and to do his duty without respite. He would not seek credit for things even when it was so obviously due. He was never content to rest on his laurels. So he continued reading and studying, taking great interest in others and the world around him. And he was scrupulously honest.
His amazing successes from humble migrant to raising his beautiful family were not done by stepping on others but rather helping them.

As Maria used to say when we were kids "That man is a saint".

I will always look up to him and his example.
Love
Nick

Jack Dooney

July 3, 2020

Walter was a great, honorable man who I learned from and my family cherished. It was great speaking with Walter on the phone a few weeks ago. Many wonderful memories. Walter will be missed, but his spirit will always be remembered. We consider the Geercken family the salt of the earth. You are in our thoughts and prayers. The Dooney's - Jack, Kim, Amanda, Matthew.

Anil Mukherji

July 3, 2020

There are many memories of Walter that we cherish. One of them goes back to the days when we were planning Monica and Karl’s wedding in 1992. We suggested to Walter having a Hindu wedding in addition to the Christian ceremony. We were pleasantly surprised that he enthusiastically endorsed it. He said that this was a must because it’s a very old tradition. This shows his cultural broad mindedness. May his soul Rest In Peace.

Michelle Tate

July 2, 2020

My heart goes out to the family, My thought and prayers are with you. Mr. Walter was a great man and very caring, I enjoyed working with him and his beautiful wife. They were angels that gained there crown with wings. May God bless his soul.

Debbie Cohen

July 2, 2020

How fortunate we were to live next door to these two amazing people. Loved watching Walter putter around all our lawns and Mary was always there to supervise. Two special people that we were lucky enough to know. RIP Mary and Walter

Barbara Ruggiero

July 1, 2020

My deepest sympathy to Maria, Karl, Elisabeth and the extended family. I remember when Walter went through hip and knee surgery and did so well, never complaining. When we went to visit him in the nursing home he would have to leave his comfortable chair to go find us a chair. That’s Walter, everything had to be perfect as his guests. He made me conscious of my front flower bed, and he gave me several tips along the way.
When he wasn’t feeling good I would make him 🍲 soup but he reminded me he didn’t like white cream soups. He preferred chicken soup the best. He loved his family especially his wife Mary of 58 years. A month before Mary passed away he told me that he would hold her hand and tell her how pretty she was, and how nice she was dressed. I remember several years ago shopping at the mall in Grapevine with the couple, Walter would pick out the clothes he wanted Mary to try on and she went along with whatever he liked.
You could see the genuine love they shared, it was a love story made in Heaven !
I miss them both.
May they RIP

Kevin Dooney

July 1, 2020

One of my earliest memories of Uncle Walter is at Atlantic Nursery, I had to be four or five. I remember seeing him reaching down to my level and quietly handing me a tiny green cactus planted in a small brightly colored plastic pot. That small act of kindness and validation speaks not only of his generosity but of Walter's intention and willingness to share what he loved.

The garden that surrounded my childhood home was designed by Walter. His aesthetic was clear, sophisticated, elegant, and strong – just like him. I never grew tired of exploring the ideas and decisions in Walters design. His ideas shaped my own design preferences and deepened my interest in both gardening and the power of design.

When I was a kid Uncle Walter was a giant in stature. Always warm, kind, and welcoming but looming taller than anyone else in my small world. As I grew older, I got to know Walter as a true giant in integrity, generosity, and grace.

We have lost a great man and Molly and I are so sorry.

Uncle Walter will always hold a special place in our hearts. In his honor, this weekend Molly, Micah, and I will plant a tree in our backyard to remember Uncle Walter; our giant.

I wish we could be with you at this time. We are sending our deepest and sincere condolences to Maria, Karl, Elisabeth, and your families.

With Love,
Kevin, Molly, and Micah Dooney

Kevinne Astudillo

July 1, 2020

I will always remember the love that Walter and Mary had for one another. Nothing was going to stop Walter from coming to visit his Mary.
Walter gifted the joy of pansies and wonderful flower to the courtyard of River Oaks Community for all to enjoy. It was so wonderful to go and sit with all of the blooms he and his family planted. His mission was to share joy and he did just that.
Heaven has gained two very special angels!
God Bless you all.

The Astudillo Family

Biography

Walter Geercken was born on December 25, 1931 in Hamburg, Germany, the only child of Joachim Walter and Maria Geercken. He died this past Sunday on June 28, 2020, after surviving with pancreatic cancer for more than three years.

Walter grew up in wartime Germany, for the most part separated from his family, and was determined to leave Germany as soon as he was able. Walter’s opportunity came in early 1953, when he departed on a freighter for the United States with nothing more than his training as a nurseryman and gardener. Upon arriving in New York, his goal was to continue his education and training in horticulture by working in nurseries in the New York area in the spring and summer seasons, and in florists in the fall and winter months. That training was interrupted only by his stint in the U.S. military in the mid- to late 1950s, after which he succeeded in becoming a U.S. citizen (one of the proudest days of his life). He then continued his work as a nurseryman and florist, ultimately meeting his wife of 58 years, Mary, while he worked as a florist and she as a cashier at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Mary was a recent Irish immigrant and devout Catholic. Although not a Catholic until baptized and confirmed on his death bed, Walter was a spiritual man and strong supporter of the Catholic church. Mary’s large Irish family embraced Walter and he them. Through his work, he happily beautified the gardens and homes of the entire family.

Together Walter and Mary built a life for themselves on the south shore of Long Island in the Village of Freeport where Walter worked as a nurseryman and gardener at the Atlantic Nursery for more than 40 years. He helped grow the Nursery with his closest friends – including Sig Feile, Hans Goldhagen and Rudi and Wolfgang Harbauer – who became more like family. At the same time, Walter and Mary raised three children and became active members of the Freeport community, hosting foreign visitors, becoming exchange parents to a young Australian, Nick Murfett, and volunteering at and supporting Our Holy Redeemer Church. Walter was also a dedicated Rotarian and served as his chapter’s President. When he finally retired, he joined Mary at the soup kitchen volunteering. During his early days in New York, both the Salvation Army and the YMCA helped him. He did his best to return the favors he received by routinely taking his turn at the bell every Christmas season and providing financial support and free gardening services to the YMCA when he was established.

In later years, Walter and Mary moved to Langhorne PA, and later to Lewisville, TX, where they became active members of those communities, attending the local churches (St. Ignatius in Langhorne and St. Ann’s in Coppell). Walter was awarded Volunteer of the Year at the Fairless Hills YMCA, receiving a special commendation from the governor, and he contributed and designed plantings for several other organizations and friends. Thanks to Walter’s efforts, the grounds of each of those was left more beautiful than before his arrival. Aside from his profound focus on the cultivation of living plants, the nurturing and education of his children and his grandchildren were of primary concern. To quote the grandchildren, “Opa always respected our intelligence, listened to our concerns and shared knowledge and ideas all through his life.”

Mary predeceased Walter by two weeks on June 13. After saying goodbye to Mary and getting his affairs in order, he joined her this past Sunday on June 28. Walter is survived by their children and their respective spouses, Maria and Chris Herrel, Karl and Monica Geercken (née Mukherji) and Elisabeth and William Daron Cole; their grandchildren: Phillip Anil Geercken, Sean Walter Geercken, Christopher Gerard Herrel, Julia Frances Herrel, Kenneth William Cole, Ryan Charles Cole, Nikolas Walter Cole and Martin Patrick Cole; cousin, Hans Juergen Geercken and his wife Hannelore Geercken, cousin Joern Henze, Gisela Vollert, wife of Siegfriend Vollert, his cousin and their many nephews and nieces.

Walter loved his family and his work. In lieu of sending his surviving family flowers on the occasion of his passing, the family would prefer that you send flowers or a plant to someone you love. Walter’s charity of choice was Catholic Charities.

Learn more about the Geercken name

VISIT ANCESTRY.COM