METAMORA, Ohio -- Gregory Geer, a retired funeral home director and longtime volunteer firefighter who was known for a patriotic tribute to the U.S. flag that he recited at community events, died Saturday in Toledo Hospital. He was 65.
Mr. Geer, who retired Oct. 3 from Urbanski Funeral Home, fell down the stairs last Thursday at home in Metamora and was taken to the hospital, his wife, Cheryl, said. The family awaits autopsy results.
A 1969 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Mr. Geer was a teacher before he obtained his funeral director's license in 1986.
He taught earth science at Evergreen High School near Metamora in northeastern Fulton County.
He began his career in the mortuary business at the former Biehl-Malone Funeral Home in Metamora and was employed at several other funeral homes in Toledo before joining Urbanski about 12 years ago.
Owner Jordan Urbanski said Mr. Geer, who was employed at the Secor Road and Lagrange Street locations, made people feel comfortable and at home.
"He had a calm laid-back way about him that families found very reassuring. They felt like they could talk to him," Mr. Urbanski said. "He also was a lot of fun to be around and very witty. He loved to kid and joke."
Mr. Geer also taught several years at the former St. Hedwig School on Lagrange Street.
"He loved teaching. I think that was his first love," his wife said.
Mr. Geer grew up in Metamora, where his father, the late Dr. Paul Geer, was a family practitioner. He graduated in 1964 from Metamora High School.
He married the former Cheryl Becker on Aug. 20, 1966. They were high school sweethearts, Mrs. Geer said.
He joined the Metamora-Amboy Volunteer Fire Department in 1979 and was a firefighter and emergency medical technician during his 32 years on the squad.
At one time, he taught EMT certification to volunteer firefighters in Fulton County.
He went on an emergency fire run last week to direct traffic. "He would still go on the runs and help with it," Mrs. Geer said.
More than 10 years ago, Mr. Geer started the patriotic presentation in which he recited the verses of "Ragged Old Flag," a spoken word tribute to the American flag that Johnny Cash wrote and released in 1974.
Mrs. Geer said he delivered the recitation to community groups and at Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities, using a tattered flag as a display for the program, which he always dedicated to his father and father-in-law and friends who fought in Vietnam.
She said the flag, at his wishes, will be wrapped and placed with him in the casket at the funeral home.
"I can't remember all the cemeteries that we would travel to and he recited the poem. He did it every year for the annual opening of the [Metamora] park," she said. "He has done it at a lot of places. Everyone just loved it when he recited it."
The Geers were frequent visitors to Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, where Mr. Geer's mother grew up and his grandfather was a commercial fisherman.
"He loved the island and he loved fishing," she said.
Mr. Geer also had been active in the Metamora Historical Society.
His wife said he had been looking forward to doing more work with the group after his retirement.
"He was loving his retirement and playing with his grandkids."
Surviving are his wife, Cheryl; sons, Brian, Bradley, and Brent; brothers, Jeff and Rod; sisters, Heidi Leiendecker and Gretchen Dussell, and seven grandchildren.
Visitation is to be after 2 p.m. Thursday in the Weigel Funeral Home, Metamora, where Masonic services are to be at 7 p.m., followed by the fireman's last alarm service at 7:30 p.m.
Services are to be at 11 a.m. Friday in the funeral home.
The family suggests tributes to Metamora-Amboy Volunteer Fire Department or Metamora United Methodist Church Children's Program Fund.