Daniel R. Gernatt Sr., a resident of Collins, entered peacefully to his eternal home with family at his side early Monday, May 5, 2014. At the age of 97, an American success story, Gernatt obtained countless milestones throughout his life.
Born into John and Martha Gernatt's farming family of 10 children, Gernatt learned early as a young boy the value of work, morality, character, family and faith. As a young man of 17, he learned the value of resilience and endurance. He began his first business adventure raising turkeys as a 4-H project. The learning and improvements he made in this busi-ness were the earmarks of enterprising growth and transformational leadership.
In 1938, Gernatt along with his new bride, the late Flavia Gernatt, combined the business knowledge gained and his trust and faith in his Lord, into a new enterprise of dairy farming, which grew into the largest dairy farm in Erie County.
They spent tireless hours hauling grain to build the foundation for the highly successful Gernatt Family of Companies, one of the largest sand and gravel pro-ducers in New York state. Gernatt as a dairy farmer began marketing gravel items from his farm in 1946. In 1955, he established Dan Gernatt Gravel Products Inc. In 1961, Gernatt Asphalt Products Inc. was formed. Then, Country Side Sand and Gravel Pro-ducts Inc. followed in 1964. Over the years, the Gernatt companies have grown to include operations in Chaffee, Delevan, Freedom, Gowanda, Great Valley, Hanover, South Dayton, Springville, West Seneca and Westfield.
Dan had a special love for horses. Anywhere in New York state and throughout the U.S., where trotters and pacers have en-tertained nightly, harness-racing fans know the name of "Collins." Dan Gernatt farms was the home of several hundred outstanding world-class horses who carried the last name of "Collins." He was proud of his horses, and took great pride in their record achievement and breeding. Dan learned much about horses from the horses themselves as he worked with and took pride in each one of them. It is this principle of learning that served Dan well as he augmented his knowledge by rolling up his sleeves and by watching, listening and doing in the "school of life experiences."
Gernatt's dedicated passion, work ethic, drive and spirit of "do unto others" spoke to his virtue. His ear-nest sense of values was based upon the principles of goodness and giving. As founder of the Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation, Dan has been able to show his love and respect for others and their wellbeing. His legacy continues as the foundation provides help for people where and when their need is the greatest.
Throughout the years, many individuals and families have been and are the recipients of the generosity of this man and his wife.
Dan began his life in humble surroundings, yet has touched the lives, hearts and minds of many individuals throughout the years. He lived by his mot-to "live and let live" with a great zest for life. His passion for living was exemplified through a deeply felt love for his God, a genuine commitment to his church, devotions and af-fection for his family, a sincere allegiance for his community, a hard-working example to all of his employees and a forthright dedica-tion to his country.
A friend to many, a loving husband, a dedicated and deeply committed father and grandfather, a true role model of virtue and a symbol of excellence for others to emulate.
Dan is survived by children: Patricia (James) Rebmann, Daniel (Roseann) Gernatt Jr. and Phyllis (late Richard) Ulmer; 16 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; 12 great-great-grandchildren; and a sister, Esther Dittenhofer.
Dan's wake will be held in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, E. Main Street, Gowanda with cal-ling hours, Thursday, May 8 from 4-8 p.m. and Friday, May 9 from 3-8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. at the church.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Hospice of Buffalo, 225 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga, NY 14227 or St. Joseph's Church, 26 Erie Ave., Gowanda, NY 14070 or the Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation, 13870 Taylor Hollow Road, Collins, NY 14034.
Arrangements are by the Schindler Funeral Home, 44 Center St., Gowanda, NY 716-532-4200.