Originally Published: December 27, 2015 6:49 p.m.
Dr. Paul L. and Freda G. Gersper will be married 60 years on Jan. 3, 2016. A gala celebration, with up to 120 invited guests, will be at the Prescott Club in StoneRidge, the evening of Dec. 27, to honor the couples 60 years of wedded bliss.
The couple has lived in Prescott Valley's StoneRidge community for more than four years; having lived in Ohio, California, and Washington before moving to
Dr. Gersper has been a member of the University of California at Berkeley faculty since 1968, and is now a Professor Emeritus. He is also an active member of American Legion Post 108 in Prescott Valley. Ms. Gersper is an active member of local Chapter FH-AZ of the PEO Sisterhood; presently serving as the chapter's treasurer.
The couple, who met in high school, were married in 1956, while Paul was still serving with the army combat engineers. Their first son, Markham, was born two months before Paul's discharge. Taking advantage of the Korean War G.I. Bill, they started Paul's education at Ohio State University in Fall 1957. Paul received his B.S in 1961, his M.S. in 1963 and his Ph.D. in 1968; and immediately joined the U.C. Berkeley faculty as an Assistant Professor. Their other three children were born during the 10-1/2 years they were at Ohio State: Matthew, in 1961, Linda, in 1964 and Michael, in 1966.
At Berkeley, in addition to teaching a required course, and a few, campus-wide, general interest courses, Professor Gersper also served as a department chairman, an assistant dean of his college, and as director of the college international visitor program. He also served for 25 years as a faculty athletic adviser and as a Peace Corps representative. His research program featured soil-plant relationships: within natural ecosystems, mostly in the arctic tundra of Alaska and in the alpine tundras in the mountains of Alaska and Colorado; and within organic (sustainable) agriculture systems, mostly in the Salinas Valley of California and on the island nation of Cuba.
During the first half of their marriage, Ms. Gersper spent most of her time raising the children and in volunteer work. While the family were living in Walnut Creek California, she was president of both the local and district PTAs; served eight years as an elected school board member; and served her community in many other ways. Later, she became the owner of the Warehouse Walnut Creek, a packaged food business; and an active member of the Business and Professional Women organization, serving as its president, and being recognized by the State Legislature as the BPW Woman of the Year.
For 11 years, immediately prior to moving to Arizona, both Paul and Freda were very active with Lions Clubs International - with Freda serving several years as membership chair, and Paul serving as president of two clubs. They both were honored as Lions of the Year and as Melvin Jones Fellows; and Paul held several appointments at the District level.
Paul is the author or co-author of approximately 100 journal articles, book chapters, and published research reports. He has also authored or co-authored more than 100 newspaper articles on behalf of Lions Clubs International.
The couple have 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, scattered around the world. Since the mid-'80s, they have traveled extensively - mainly to visit their far-flung children and grandchildren. With Linda and Michael serving in the military, they have made eight trips to Europe and three to Hawaii to visit them and their families. Michael, a master sergeant, is still in the army, in his 25th year of service, and two of the couple's grandsons are also serving in the army. Michael, one of the heroes of the battle of Ramadi, Iraq, honored his parents on their 51st wedding anniversary by flying Old Glory over Fire Base Dragon on Jan. 3, 2007, as the battle was nearing an end.
In addition to their volunteer work, Paul is writing several volumes of essays, under the general title of, "The Honest Truth of Things," and has nearly completed his first novel, "Love Letters from the Grave;" and Freda is working on a photographic history of their extended family. For relaxation, they very much enjoy socializing with their many friends, and taking advantage of the many arts and entertainment events offered in the Prescott area; attending most of the dinner shows at the Palace Saloon, and many of the shows at the Elks Opera House and the Yavapai College Center for the Performing Arts.