Returning to our Savior after a difficult battle with cancer, Leslie H. Gertsch passed away in her home on November 28, 2019, while in the care of her loving husband, Dero, and her children. Leslie leaves behind her husband, their four children, and thirteen grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her parents, Walter Berry and Elora Hutchings, her in-laws, Benjamin Carl and Theresia Bertram Gertsch, and her daughter, Kerri Ann Gertsch (2 1/2 years old).
Leslie was born on June 4, 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was raised in Bountiful, Utah as one of six children of Walter Berry and Elora Fenn Hutchings, with two sisters and three brothers. In the early years of Leslie’s life, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that eventually left her with complete vision loss. Leslie graduated in the top of her class with the help of close friends and family members who would read her schoolwork and textbooks to her. While working towards her bachelor’s degree in French, with a minor in English, Leslie traveled to Belgium in order to perfect her language skills. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah Honors Program with an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in French and a teaching certificate. She continued in the Honors Program to earn her Honors Master of Arts degree, also summa cum laude, in Secondary Counseling.
As an enthusiastic equestrian, Leslie’s passion for horses led to her union with Dero, her beloved spouse of forty-four years. Leslie and Dero worked together and, with the help of family members, built their dream home. There they raised their five children Kathryn Elaine Schofield (James, deceased), Samuel Benjamin Gertsch (Kristine), Kerri Ann Gertsch (age 2 1/2, deceased), Alexander Dero Gertsch (Jessica), and Elora Theresia Gertsch.
Leslie could often be found at home tending to the many farm animals, gardening, preserving the garden produce, operating her Braille transcription business, and working as the executive director of the Utah Council of the Blind. She loved to serve others and spent much of her time serving with her family, church, and community. She gave several decades of her life to organizations serving and advocating for people with disabilities. Among many others, these included the Utah Council of the Blind, the UCB Credit Union, the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities, the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Advisory Council, the Institutional Council for the Utah State Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and the Utah Statewide Independent Living Council. Her major focus was always on independence for people with disabilities. She made those passions her life’s work and was recently presented with the inaugural “Leslie H. Gertsch Award for Lifelong Leadership and Service”, which was created in her honor.
A memorial service to honor Leslie will be held at the LDS Chapel located at 1509 W. 1500 S. in Woods Cross, Utah, on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.
The family would especially like to thank the staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute, many diligent ward members, and CNS Hospice for their acts of kindness. They also appreciate the constant care and concern from Leslie’s close friends (you know who you are).
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Leslie’s philanthropic endeavors, especially the Utah Council of the Blind. Donations may be sent to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415.