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Covid-19: Stansted grandfather Barry Gerber struck by virus died on his 59th wedding anniversary

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The family of a 79-year-old Stansted man who died after testing positive for Covid-19 released rainbow-coloured balloons into the sky in his memory.

Barry Gerber, who lived in the village for more than 60 years, died on Tuesday March 31 on what was his 59th wedding anniversary. He leaves his wife, Anne, also 79.

Beneath bright blue skies on Sunday afternoon (April 5), his granddaughter Kirsty Pope was joined by other family members, maintaining social distancing, at the park near his home in Mount Drive to commemorate his life and captured the moment the balloons drifted off, posting it on social media for all those who had left their condolences to see.

Balloons released for Barry (33040717)
Balloons released for Barry (33040717)

She told the Indie: “Many people knew him in the village. He'd lived here for over 60 years and was very friendly to everyone he met. Lots of people saw him walking Molly his collie around the Green Park in Stansted and would stop to chat with him.”

Kirsty said her grandfather was taken ill around March 23 and was admitted to Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, on March 28, where he died three days later.

“He was very poorly in his last few days and died of pneumonia and Covid-19. This man was the main male influence in my life and I'm completely destroyed at the fact he has gone,” she said.

Grandfather Barry Gerber (33040715)
Grandfather Barry Gerber (33040715)

Kirsty said that her nan was finding it hard being at home without her husband of 59 years, but said that her uncle, Mark, was staying with her and "had been amazing sorting everything out".

The Gerbers have three children: Stephen, 57, Mark, 54, and Kirsty's mother, Julie, 51. Kirsty is their only grandchild and she has two children, Finley, 4, and Sidney, 1.

Barry was formerly a lorry driver and in his later years became a self-employed painter and decorator.

Family and friends described him as "an amazing man", "a lovely man" and "a real gentleman", and remembered him for being out walking his dog and popping in to meet friends for tea and a chat.

Julie, who wrote of his love of fishing, said: "My dear Dad, who I will dearly miss. You will be forever in my thoughts and my heart. I hope you will be at peace. I love you and will miss you so, so much."

Prior to her grandfather's death, Kirsty had been collecting items for those struggling to cope during the virus outbreak. She has been receiving donations of food and household items to distribute to the elderly or those on their own.

"I started the collection before Grandad became ill, but helping the elderly has always been a priority of mine," she said. "We've had so many donations which will hopefully help out as many people we can."

A private cremation service will take place on Thursday April 16. Barry's ashes will be interred at St Mary's Church in Broxted, alongside the remains of his mother, father and brother.

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