February 1, 1944 – March 12, 2021
Unforgettable, irrepressible Gerry Laarakker died peacefully in the afternoon hours of Saturday, March 13, 2021 in the Vernon Jubilee Hospital in Vernon British Columbia, loved into eternity by his wife Sigrid, the woman of his dreams, and his precious children Avra and Carl, his proudest treasures.
Gerry was born in Venlo, Netherlands, the son of Johannes and Alegonda and youngest sibling of Martin, Riet, Piet, Nellie, Margeret (Greta), Jan, and Franz.
At the age of 19, he bravely emigrated on his own for a new life to Canada as an electrical engineer for Clairtone. A few years later, yearning for learning, he joined the student ranks at McMaster University in Hamilton, where he quickly made his presence known, most notably as the photo editor and the editor in chief of McMaster’s award-winning student Newspaper, the Silhouette.
He went on to become a fixture in the Hamilton Business Community and took his skill as a brilliant photographer to the highest level when he opened Laarakker Portrait Studio in Hess Village. He became the “Karsh of Hamilton” and a “Laarakker” portrait was coveted by the famous and the humble alike.
Ever adventurous and single-minded, he sharply changed direction in 1993 when he enrolled at Osgoode Hall Law school and began the long march to a second sterling career as a lawyer. He then boldly set off again for a new life with his family in the interior of British Columbia.
He was called to the B.C. bar in 1997 and spent the next 23 years caring for his clients with intelligence and decency as a sole practitioner in the City of Vernon, the hub of glorious Okanagan Valley.
As an artist he was always alert to the little details which would elevate each photograph; that same training served Gerry well in his legal career. Blunt, opinionated and fiercely independent, he despised injustice and stood up for its victims wherever he saw it. He fought tenaciously for the rights of young immigrant children charged with petty theft as detailed in the book “In Search of the Ethical Lawyer”.
His community service ran from Rotary to membership on the Board of the Jubilee Hospital’s Ethics Committee.
A philosopher, a rebel, an artist, lover of music and, most of all, a loving husband, father and loyal friend. An Original. He laughed often, loved well and fought hard. He grabbed life with gusto and grace. He is deeply loved and mourned.
You are invited to leave a personal message of condolence at the family’s online obituary @ www.MyAlternatives.ca
Arrangements entrusted to Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services® Vernon 250-558-0866 & Armstrong 250-546-7237.
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