Palm Desert – Paul Gershick May 25, 1925 – July 4, 2020
Our Patriarch, PAUL GERSHICK, CONTRACTED COVID 19 and was taken to the hospital on June 29th, 2020 and died on the 4th of the July at the age of 95.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Sylvia, who lived to the age of 100. Paul is survived by his wife of 35 years, Pat Gershick, his 2 sons Steve and Mark, 3 stepdaughters, 2 daughters-in-law, 14 grandchildren and four of their spouses and 8 great grandchildren in addition to his only nephew Larry Levy and family.
Paul was dedicated to his Jewish Faith yet loved to celebrate all the holidays as the patriarch of his very diverse family. Despite family divorces, step children, exes, different religions and politics, he kept the family together with a wide armed attitude of inclusion.
Paul was born Queens, New York to immigrant parents from Minsk, Russia who became involved in the labor movement. The family then moved to Connecticut until Paul joined the Air Force right out of High School. Paul served 3 years in the Air Force as a flight engineer and top turret gunner in B-24 bombers. After being discharged from the Air Force he attended and graduated from Syracuse University as a History major. Paul remained a lifelong Syracuse football and basketball fan. He moved to California where his parents and sister already relocated and had a successful career in the life insurance industry. Paul achieved Life Membership in the Million Dollar RoundTable for 50 years.
After a divorce from his first wife Roberta in the early 80’s, Paul met Pat and they were married in 1984. Pat and Paul lived in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, CA until they retired in 1992 when they moved to Del Webb Sun City, in Palm Desert, CA. Paul and Pat started hiking in the desert several times a week which led to travelling to many National Parks in CA, OR and WA. They then joined the Road Scholar Travel Club (formerly Elderhostel) and were fortunate to be able to visit and hike many other states and countries.
Paul was instrumental in forming the Sun City Palm Desert Hiking Club and became the 1st Hike Leader Coordinator in 2001 at the age of 76. An avid hiker, he became interested in native plants. He decided to take classes at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and earned the credits to become a Master Desert Naturalist on Nov. 11, 2006 at the age of 81. Paul then went on to get certified as a Docent on March 6, 2007 to be able to lead hikes and teach others about native plants, animals, and insects. His focus was survival in harsh terrain.
Paul volunteered at the Coachella Valley Nature Conservancy Land and Management Center for over 20 years where he led interpretive walks and lectured on the ecology of plants and how they survived the dry desert climate. An attendee of one of his lectures wrote a book about the indigenous people and plants of the Coachella Valley that she dedicated to him. The book, “Birdsong for a Creosote Bush, A Story of Indigenous People’s Wisdom’, is written and illustrated by Cyndi Strid. Her dedication: “This book us dedicated to desert naturalist, Paul Gershick. His deep passion for the desert and its earliest people inspired the creation of this children’s book.”
In addition, Paul worked in Palm Springs at the Agua Caliente Museum where he shared his passions for and knowledge of the Agua Caliente Tribe of Cahuilla Indians who presence goes back 5000 years.
Paul was a lifelong learner who developed extensive knowledge of desert geology, botany, paleontology & archaeology that he enthusiastically shared with others until he was 90 years old.