Vivian Gering: 1927-2021
Vivian I. Gering, 93, was born Oct. 1, 1927 to Elias and Lillie (Waltner) Brockmueller in Freeman, S.D. and died June 25, 2021 at Arbor Lakes Senior Living, Maple Grove, Minn. The oldest of four, Vivian worked with her dad cultivating fields and making hay with horses. Vivian graduated from Freeman Jr. College (1950), Bethel College (Kan., 1952), and SDSU (master’s in counseling, 1970).
She married Glenn Gering on November 20, 1951, together celebrating 64 years. Two children, John and Peggy, were born to this union.
Baptized Oct. 18, 1942 at Salem Mennonite Church, Vivian remained an active member, teaching Sunday school for over 50 years. She served on the board of deacons and held various leadership roles. Notably, Vivian helped develop the Northern District Conference’s Family Life Ministry (seven years) and served on the national commission on education, General Conference Mennonite Church (10 years).
Education was a life-long calling for Vivian. After starting her career as a classroom teacher (10 years), Vivian was asked to become guidance counselor (K-12) for Freeman Public Schools and Hutterite Colonies (20 years). From pioneering elementary programs to piloting high school student career exploration (work shadowing), Vivian was highly attuned to the needs of her students. She received ample recognition, including the Mary Lark Humanitarian Award (first SD recipient, 1982) and the Orv Schmieding Counselor Award (school counseling pioneer, 1987).
Vivian had strong compassion for the disabled. As mother of a disabled son, she provided encouragement and support to other regional families. As a charter member of the local Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC); 1960, Vivian held office for 20 years. Her involvement continued on the SD Advocacy Services Governing Board for Persons with Disabilities, 1986-1994.
Her gift of service extended to the larger community. Vivian was a charter board member for the local Wellspring counseling services. She provided Disaster Mental Health Training for the American Red Cross (1997). She volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service flood cleanup in Rapid City, S.D. (1972) and Loveland, Colo. (1976). Vivian was among the first volunteers for the Freeman Sanford Hospice Program in 1995 and served for 13 years.
After moving to Minnesota in 2014, Vivian continued to enjoy photography, travel, reading and scrapbooking. She was very involved with family, from celebrating Chinese holidays to supporting her grandsons’ vocal and instrumental performances. At Arbor Lakes Senior Living, her cheerful smile and optimistic disposition brought encouragement to others, brightening their days. Her faith in the Lord shone through to the very end.
Vivian is survived by son, John; daughter Peggy, Jasper and grandsons Nathan and Joshua Li; and sisters Cleo Friesen and Joyce Wipf. She was preceded in death by parents Elias and Lillie Brockmueller, brother Gordon Brockmueller, and husband Glenn Gering. Vivian firmly believed that faith in God is vital to total well-being, and that service to others enriches lives.
A favorite Bible passage was Philippians 4: 8-9: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”