Dr. Robert Earl Gerner, 1930-2007
VAIL ” Dr. Robert Earl Gerner, Vail’s first surgeon, died Oct. 5, in Denver. He was 76.
Gerner was born Dec. 12, 1930, in Lelia Lake, Texas, to Edward W. and Alma Jane Russell Gerner. He attended Lelia Lake schools, Clarendon College and West Texas State University. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston and did his surgical residence at Hahnaman Medical Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.
Gerner began his medical career in Buffalo, N.Y. He worked for a number of years at The Roswell Park Memorial Institute in cancer research before moving to Denver in the early 1970s.
Gerner worked at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for several years, teaching medical students and specializing in cancer research. He also owned and managed a business called Doc’s Stone before moving to the Vail Valley.
Gerner was a devoted surgeon who dedicated over 25 years of service to the Vail Valley Medical Center. For many years, Gerner was the only surgeon to serve this community and carried the entire surgical load at the hospital.
Gerner was also in private practice, Vail/Summit Surgery, in which he served patients from Vail, Lake and Summit counties. He treated minor skin lesions to cancer to hernias. It was not rare to find Gerner performing outpatient surgeries to reduce the financial costs.
“Dr. Gerner was the most generous, kind and compassionate person I have ever met” says Vickie Notaro of Vail Resorts.
Longtime employee, Juanita Gallegos, had several stories to tell of her boss and dear friend. She remembered instances where patients did not have money to pay for their prescriptions after Gerner performed surgery.
“Dr. Gerner would give them money to purchase their medication,” said Gallegos, who described Dr. Gerner as a “Man with a Heart of Gold.”
Gerner enjoyed the great outdoors at his second home at Lookout Mountain. He enjoyed watching his favorite teams ” the Dallas Cowboys and the Colorado Rockies ” play on television. Gerner also kept his eyes out on the stock market.
Gerner was laid to his final rest at Citizens Cemetery in Clarendon, Texas, alongside his parents, grandparents, two brothers, nephew, and a number of other family members.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, at the Donovan Pavilion in Vail.