Merlin Gesing

Merlin W. Gesing, 56, of Waukon passed away peacefully at his home Saturday, February 28, 2015 surrounded by his family following a long, courageous battle with cancer. Memorial services will be held Wednesday, March 4 at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Waukon, with Rev. Msgr. Ed Lechtenberg officiating. Burial will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, rural Waukon. Friends may call from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at Martin Funeral Home in Waukon, where there will be a 3:45 p.m. scripture service.
Merlin William Gesing was born July 16, 1958 in Waukon to Joseph and Leona (Komarek) Gesing. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick Catholic Church, attended St. Pat’s School through eighth grade, and graduated from Waukon High School in 1976. He attended the University of Iowa for one year, after which he decided to return home and farm with his father. He was united in marriage to Rebecca Lynn Prestemon June 27, 1981 at Zion United Church of Christ in Waukon. To this union five children were born.
Merlin was a lifelong farmer, operating a dairy herd and raising beef cattle, hogs and crops, and in more recent years organic laying hens. Merlin became interested in organic crop production in the early 1990s. He eventually transitioned the entire farm into organic production, as well as raising dairy, beef and eggs organically, and received numerous conservation awards for his sustainability efforts. He always appreciated his own organic farming mentors, and in turn mentored many new organic farmers as well.
Merlin was a lifelong member of St. Patrick Catholic Church, where he served on Parish Council, St. Pat’s School Board of Education, director of Men’s CEW, CCD teacher, and confirmation table leader, as well as volunteering as Eucharistic Minister, lector and altar server. He was active in the community as well.
Merlin was a 4-H Leader, member of the Allamakee County Extension Council, Pork Producers, Allamakee Athletic Boosters, and was a Jefferson Township Trustee. He was also a volunteer coach for his children's and grandchildren’s sports endeavors.
Merlin will be remembered as a loving son, husband, father, grandfather and brother. He had an indescribable charisma, sense of humor and ability to make people feel both welcome and important. He was a humble man and led by quiet example. He touched many lives through his spirituality and faith, especially throughout his illness with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST). Merlin was an avid learner as well, researching and implementing many new farming practices to increase the sustainability and profitability of his farm.
Merlin taught his children the importance of understanding the world around us. He traveled with Becky and the children internationally, including several European countries, South Africa, Peru and Ecuador. In the last year he fulfilled a lifelong dream when he and Becky traveled to Ecuador doing medical mission work and being God’s hands through building a church and working in an orphanage.
His favorite times were spent with his family. No matter how busy he was on the farm, he was never too busy to support his children’s interests and activities; his advice and quiet reassurance was frequently sought after. His grandchildren brought their “Papa” lots of joy and he loved roughhousing and holding his precious grandbabies. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Becky, of Waukon; four children, Meghan (John) Palmer of Waukon, Leah of Madison, WI, Vaughn of Dubuque and Hannah (Pat) Kelly of Ft. Atkinson; his mother, Leona Gesing of Waukon; five grandchildren, Faith, Ethan, Norah, Naomi and Roslyn Palmer; three brothers, Wayne of Dubuque, Mark of Maricopa, AZ and Kevin (Mary) of Cedar Rapids; and a sister, Joanne (Paul) Jacob of Suisan City, CA.  He is also survived by his parents-in-law, John and Sheryl Prestemon of Waukon; his brother-in-law, Brad (Kari) Prestemon of Northfield, MN; his sister-in-law, Shari Prestemon of Eden Prairie, MN; Becky’s grandmother, Marcie Opfer; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Merlin was preceded in death by his infant son, Ethan; and his father, Joseph.
Memorials should be directed to The Life Raft Group - whose mission is research, education, advocacy and support for GIST cancer patients and their family members, or to St. Patrick School.
Honorary casketbearers are Merlin and Becky's CEW Christian Community, Tom Christensen, Brian Drew, Dave Prestemon, Kent Schlitter, Kirk Snitker, Dennis Stika, Gary Welsh and Joel Winnes.
Online condolences may be left at


Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)