Gerry (Gerhardt) Fortner, a well-respected schoolteacher and cherished member of the community, passed away on December 8, 2023. Born on September 7, 1932, in Rockville, Indiana, to John Earl Fortner and Ruby (Schneider) Fortner, Gerry dedicated his life to shaping young minds as a teacher. He will be remembered fondly for his passion for education, his dedication to his students, and his unwavering commitment to helping others.
His journey in education began after obtaining bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana University. With knowledge and enthusiasm, he embarked on a teaching career that spanned several decades and more than 1,000 students. He taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade throughout his career at Conner School in Noblesville and Carmel Elementary. He challenged students with lessons such as teaching fifth graders mathematics by simulating investing in the stock market and fourth graders dissecting frogs. Gerry has continued his commitment to education by funding scholarships in Hamilton and Parke counties and through the Methodist Foundation. More than forty students have been recipients to date.
Beyond being dedicated to his profession, Gerry found true happiness when he married the love of his life, Sherry (Bowman) Fortner. Together they built a strong and loving partnership for 41 years until her passing in 2008.
Gerry and Sherry were founding members and key leaders of The Garden Church. Gerry was the first person you saw when arriving for a service and the last person to wish you a good week when you left. He worked with the hospitality team, coordinated the parking lot and made sure everyone found a place at The Garden. Gerry and Sherry were famous for their annual Christmas open house and sharing their Christmas village. His presence will always be evident in the volunteer network he developed and the spirit he leaves behind.
Gerry enjoyed being outdoors, spending much time in his garden and spoke fondly of mushroom hunting and growing black raspberries.
Gerry is survived by his sister, Helen Fortner and many nieces, nephews, and other loving family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Sherry; parents, John and Ruby Fortner; brothers, Otis, Bob, Carl, and Richard; and sisters, Marjorie, Betty Timmons and Mildred Pendergast.
A Memorial Gathering will take place from 3-4pm on Monday, December 18, 2023, at Flanner Buchanan - Carmel (325 E Carmel Dr., Carmel, IN 46032) with a memorial service immediately following at 4pm.
To watch his memorial service, view here: Gerry Fortner's Memorial Service
Please remember Gerry by sharing a smile and an act of kindness as he would. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to The Garden, Parke County Foundation or the Central Indiana Community Foundation/ Fortner Scholarship.