FERNDALE, Wash. — Gerald Metzger was an active community volunteer for many decades and, equipped with a natural white beard, provided just as many decades of Christmas happiness to generations of Ferndale children. He passed Sunday morning, July 19th at the age of 95.
Metzger was born in 1924 in Elk Mound, Wisconsin and moved to Washington in 1926. Metzger attended Ferndale High School but did not graduate with his class since he was serving in the south Pacific at the time after being drafted into World War II.
He served in the Army during WWII and awarded a Bronze Star and an Army of Occupation Medal for his service in 1946. He married Dodie Frazier in 1947.
Metzger worked as a house mover with his brother and did construction work before being hired on at Alcoa Intalco Works in the 1960s where he remained for several decades until his retirement.
He was awarded an honorary diploma from Ferndale High School in 2003.
Metzger served as a Commissioner for Whatcom County Fire District 7 (WCFD7) for 35 years and retired in 2017. He was instrumental in building the department to its present form according to current Fire Chief Larry Hoffman. Fellow former WCFD7 Commissioner Al Saab said Metzger was adamant about getting the fire department and other volunteer groups the funding they needed and that is what drove him into running for the elected position of WCFD7 commissioner.
Metzger was an active volunteer with the Whatcom County Search and Rescue (SAR) 4×4 mobile unit. According to Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Scott Huso, he began service as a volunteer Whatcom County 4×4 SAR member in 1973, shortly after the group was formed and continued his service until 2016, 43 years. He was instrumental in helping to get the Smith Road SAR building constructed and he often performed or helped coordinate maintenance on the building or anything else that needed attention, Huso said.
Equipped with a natural white beard, Metzger enjoyed playing Santa at local stores, Grange Halls, Pioneer Park Old Fashion Christmas events and other holiday gatherings and parades for over 20 years. He also provided this service during the annual Shop with a Cop holiday charity events put on by the Whatcom County law enforcement.
Whatcom County Old Settlers Association President Lynda Lucas said Metzger was proud of his age and the special Pioneer Days Ribbon for Seniors he got to wear during the annual Old Settlers Picnic. Local mechanic Don Imhof said Metzger would drive 1 of 2 Model Ts he owned during the annual Old Settlers Picnic Grand Parade (see video below).
Staff at the Ferndale Senior Activity Center said Metzger was a lunch regular, sitting at the same table and same place every day. “Folks at the center loved him. The older and frailer he became the more folks helped him get in and out of his truck and the center,” Administrative Assistant Ellaina Cope said in an email.
Metzger was preceded in death by his wife, Dolores, and sons, Bobby and Randy.
Gerald Metzger seen driving his Model T in the 2019 Grand Old Settlers Picnic Parade. Video: My Ferndale News