ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local veteran and advocate in our community, Gary Beikirch was remembered Saturday as dozens gathered for his funeral.
Family and friends all gathered at the First Bible Baptist church to honor and remember the life of Medal of Honor recipient, Gary Beikirch.
Whether people interacted with Beikirch in the last few years as he advocated for veterans, or worked with kids in school, or even decades ago fighting along his side in Vietnam remember him fondly.
Everyone who took the podium Saturday seemed to have had a life changing experience in his company, and are forever grateful to know him.
Since putting on the uniform with the Fifth Special Forces group more than 50 years ago, Beikirch always went out of his way to help others.
“I spilled out my darkness that had been haunting me for a decade and he seemed to grab it and absorb it into him. I asked him how he could experience what he did and still believe in God. He did that half-smile and shared with me some of the greatest lessons I would ever witness as a man.” Monroe County Veterans Affairs Director Nick Stefanovic said.
“Thank you Gary for allowing us to be a part of your life. Because of you we are better people. We are more forgiving, we are less critical of others, we are not as judgemental.” sister in-law to Beikirch, Charnee Buckley said.
Beikirch is remembered as a co- founder of the Veterans Outreach center, and the lives of students he was able to mentor at the Greece Central School District. But for his family, he was the heart of bringing joy to all their gatherings.
“There was this treasure box and he was the wanted to get into his treasure box that was filled with candy you had to say special words and we all know them. I love Jesus, and Jesus loves me.” Granddaughter Elizabeth Hinds said.
Friends who knew him received permission to take time out of deployment in the Middle East to attend his funeral here in Rochester.
Those who attended were able to remember his accomplishments of receiving the medal of honor while living in a New Hampshire cave, to finding the love of his life.
“Even while seeking to grow in his faith as a seminary student in New Hampshire, he opted to live in a cave in the woods for nearly two years. That was until Lolly came into the picture. The story goes sweet notes for Gary at the Seminary mail room. It didn’t take long for them I fall in love and marry a few short months later. ” Lt. Col. Doug Herrmann of the U.S. Army Medical Corp said.
Gary Beikirch passed away the day after Christmas at 74 years-old surrounded by his family after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The legacy of Gary Beikirch was commemorated last year with a portion of Highland Park being named after him.