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Herman Lewis Gentsch, Jr.


Herman Lewis Gentsch, Jr. (Lew), age 97, passed away peacefully on April 6, 2024 in Groton, NY.

Born on May 21, 1926, Lew grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Frankford High School in 1944 and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology. Following graduation, Lew worked on the family vegetable farm and also served in the 707th Anti-Aircraft Battalion of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Lew enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1952 and served with the 1141st Medical Service Squadron at Sampson Air Force Base, performing epidemiology research. While at Sampson, he met Margaret “Peggy” Van Aken, who was working in the Base Exchange and teaching in Ovid. They were married in 1953.

Lew was honorably discharged in 1956 and with Peggy returned to Philadelphia to help run the family farm. During this period, Lew and his father relocated the farm from Philadelphia to Richboro, Bucks County, where they started Gentsch’s Nursery. Both Lew and Peggy earned the certification of Pennyslvania Accredited Nurseryman, and they ran the business together until 1984. During this time, Lew served the community in the Northampton Municipal Authority and in the Lions Club.

Following their retirement in 1984, Lew and Peggy moved to Ithaca, NY. Through Peggy’s attachment to Cornell University they rarely missed an ice hockey game and they thrived on educational trips to Maine, Australia, and Europe. They also enjoyed many summers at Sodus Point, NY where they were members of the Sodus Bay Yacht Club. In the winter they would escape to Marco Island, FL, where Lew served as Secretary to the Shipps Landing condominium board of directors.

Lew’s retirement hobbies included horticulture projects in his Ithaca yard, chatting it up with people on any subject, and reading about politics. Later in life he dedicated himself to loving care of Peggy before her death in March, 2021.

Lew is survived by his son Eric and granddaughters Katie Gentsch and Beth Gentsch. The family is especially grateful to the care providers at the Groton Community Health Center, whose loving attention made his last days comfortable. The family will hold a celebration of life in the summer. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association (

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