May 24, 1932 – August 15, 2019
Howard Bernard Gerwing. May 24, 1932 – Aug. 15, 2019
Howard passed away peacefully and surrounded by love.
Howard’s parents were Bernard Joseph Gerwing, stepmother Mary, and mother, Erna Merke. His son Nicholas tragically predeceased him years ago. Also predeceased by his brother Billy, and his brother Danny (shockingly just hours before Howard). Howard’s beautiful and loving wife, Marina Gerwing passed away two years ago, whom he will be ecstatic to see again. He is survived by his brother Johnny (Gail), his children Benjamin (Debra), Katherine (Ian), and Elizabeth (Lance). Also survived by his grandchildren Alex, Graham, Emma, Jane and Samantha.
Howard was an amazing man. He was a scholar, a rare books librarian and specialist, a bookstore proprietor, a rugby coach and founder of many rugby programs at UVIC. Most importantly he was a husband, a father, an uncle, a mentor, a leader and a friend.
Through many messages from loved ones and acquaintances he has been described as a teacher, patient, kind, even a gentleman. They described him as generous, insightful and hilarious. Sometimes he was a scoundrel, sometimes he chose to challenge people, and sometimes he would just watch and listen, then guide people to greatness. He didn’t intend to be a leader, but he couldn’t help himself, as he saw such potential in people and our community and had to help to make things better, smarter and kinder.
Howard would be found on the side-lines of rugby games here in Cowichan, or in earlier years, at Uvic or Velox-Valhallians. He read as many books as any one person could, as he often said, so many books and so little time. He walked his dogs, and even his goats. Sometimes he would just stare out at the beautiful world because he so appreciated it. He lived life to the fullest; appreciating every meal, family and friends being together, strong conversations and debates, literature and art. He tried to see and feel the beauty around him, to appreciate it, then to teach others to do the same.
In the end, his biggest concern was for the happiness of his children, grandchildren, and close friends. He probably knew his time was ending soon, so he would look into the eyes of his loved ones and would say “are you happy?” with a curious gaze, then he would relax when the reply was “yes”. We are happy, sad to go on without you Dad, but yes, we are happy. Thank you for teaching us how to be.
In lieu of flowers, we would be honoured if you carried on Howard’s legacy by donating to his bursary in his name at UVIC. The link is as follows:
There will be a celebration of Howard’s life at Mellor Hall on Sunday Sept. 29, 2019 at 2:00pm
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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September 7, 2019
It’s hard to know what to write about Howard. Impossible really; he had such an extraordinary effect on so many lives—unobtrusively perhaps, unwittingly I’m sure, but profound and far reaching without a doubt. When I first met him, soon after I came to Canada in 1966, he was wearing what looked like a gold lamé suit. That was in Cowichan. I didn’t know what to make of him then, and I’m not sure I ever really did. I think I thought he was a bit odd, until I began to encounter the extraordinary range of Howard’s conversation and interests, not to mention his propensity for non sequitur, and his off-the-wall humour. Whether it was at rugby tea parties, at the Haunted Bookshop, in the dungeon of Special Collections at UVic’s MacPherson Library, or in the home he and Marina made for Elizabeth and Catherine—and so many others—at 1280 Palmer Road in Victoria. I never saw the suit again.
For me, wisdom, and the right kind of madness were part of who Howard was. He was quite a bit larger than life, and a very special friend to me. But then Howard was a special friend to a lot of people—and he was completely without ego or any personal need for recognition. He would listen, and he was generous to a fault, but he would never let you take it too seriously, whether it was a simple kindness or a gift—like the present he gave me of a first edition of St. Exupery’s ‘Little Prince’. But Howard’s greatest gift was the craic (as the Irish call it)—the talk, the stories, the back and forth. That was priceless, invariably edifying, and in one way or another, usually uplifting.
I doubt that anyone who had anything to do with the University of Victoria in Howard’s time there—whether it was the rugby or the MacPherson Library—has ever known anyone like him. I know I haven’t and never will again. He enriched an awful lot of lives. He will be missed more than words can say.
Marilyn and I offer our condolences to Elizabeth and Catherine.
Rhonda Batchelor Lillard
September 4, 2019
I was very saddened to hear of Howard's passing and extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends. I hadn't seen Howard in many years, but I once worked for him at the Haunted Bookshop when it was located in Market Square. This was back in the late 1980s, and it was a perfect "weekends only" job when my children were small. Howard was originally a friend of my late husband (Charles Lillard) and we had many other mutual friends, so it felt very "right" to step into the job. Business, sadly, was not always brisk, and, indeed, there were days when the shop barely took in enough to cover my day's wages. Howard was always kind and philosophical about this, simply shrugging and saying "That's how it goes sometimes." Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to Marina.
September 3, 2019
I loved spending time with Howard, he was many things to many people. We’d talk rugby for hours then switch to whatever books we were reading. Whenever we met he’d ask me if I was well then whether I was reading enough, each time without fail. Howard was also a wizard with babies and could make them smile with a goofy grin. I will miss him.
September 2, 2019
A lovely tribute from the family. Howard was often larger than life itself. I will miss him dearly but he has left Frances and me with innumerable memories. Bless you, Howard and thanks for being part of all of our lives. Now you have joined your soul-mate, may you R.I.P.
September 2, 2019
I always enjoyed seeing Howard on the sidelines or at the haunted bookshop.he will be missed.I am sorry for your loss.
August 24, 2019
University was about academics I thought, but my memories and people that continue to be my friends are more from the community Howard created. We played the game together and, off the rugby pitch, lived and learned together. Thanks, Howard. Rest in peace.
August 24, 2019
There is not enough words to express my thoughts on Howard. He had a tremendous impact on my educational career and coaching life as a teacher. The Tour of the British Isles in 1969, which he organized and led, was a tremendous gift to us young men and had a lasting memory. A bright light has gone out in the sky. I will miss his stories and laughter but will retain his memories. Pablo
August 23, 2019
I met Howard at my first UVic Rugby practice in September 1963. It was his first practice as well. He introduced himself to the lads and said, “I’m just here to help out.” And just like that, modestly and undefined, a legacy began.
August 21, 2019
A good, long life, well-lived. Howard was a benign and beneficial influence on many young men trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted to become, me among them. I’m grateful for having known him and glad his passing was swift and peaceful. He always used to say “Rugby isn’t a game, it’s a way of life.” What he meant, he once told me, is that if rugby is a game based on self-sacrifice, loyalty, placing the common good ahead of individual ego, justice, fairness, winning without hubris and losing with good grace against opponents always deserving of respect, it should serve as a model for the larger arena of life.
August 21, 2019
He was a gem of a man. There is not enough time to tell all the Howard stories.
August 21, 2019
Howard was a wonderful, multi-faceted character best remembered by many for his essential role in developing rugby at the University of Victoria. He was for many years, the face of rugby at UVic. In addition, we also remember the part he played in developing the Special Collections program at UVic’s McPherson Library. While I didn’t see much of Howard in his later years I will always remember him fondly as a special person who is much missed.
Les and Penny Underwood
August 20, 2019
RIP Howard, a good life well lived. Lizzy and Cathy, our thoughts are with you.