Feb. 7, 1917 – May 5, 2014
Daniel R. Gernatt Sr., an enterprising businessman and lifelong resident of Collins, died Monday in his home after a brief illness. He was 97.
Born into a farming family of 10 children, Mr. Gernatt began his first business adventure raising turkeys as a 4-H project.
In 1938, Mr. Gernatt, along with his new bride, the former Flavia Schmitz, entered into a new enterprise of dairy farming, which grew into one of the largest dairy farms in Erie County. They spent tireless hours hauling grain to build the foundation for the Gernatt Family of Companies, a sand and gravel producer in New York State.
Mr. Gernatt began marketing gravel items from his farm in 1946. In 1955, he established Dan Gernatt Gravel Products, in 1961 Gernatt Asphalt Products, and then Country Side Sand and Gravel Products followed in 1964. Over the years the Gernatt Companies had grown to include operations in Chaffee, Delevan, Freedom, Gowanda, Great Valley, Hanover, South Dayton, Springville, West Seneca and Westfield.
Mr. Gernatt had a special love for horses. Anywhere in New York State and throughout the United States harness-racing fans knew the name of “Collins,” representing the locale where the family lived. Dan Gernatt Farms was the home of several hundred world-class horses that carried the last name of “Collins.” He was proud of his horses and took great pride in their record achievement and breeding. Throughout three decades, the couple established themselves in horse-breeding and harness racing, selling more than 1,000 standardbred horses. In 1983, the couple owned nearly 250 horses.
He was a founder of the Daniel and Flavia Gernatt Family Foundation, a charitable and private financial assistance program for organizations and entities in Western New York State, mostly in the areas of education, health care and Christian-related endeavors, particularly for those in need and who are homeless.
A lifelong member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Gowanda, he was a trustee and member of its Holy Name Society. He was director of New York State Dairy Council, United States Trotting Association, a former president of Gowanda Chamber of Commerce and former advisory board member for HSBC.
His wife of 57 years died in 1995.
Survivors include a son, Daniel Jr.; two daughters, Patricia Rebmann and Phyllis Ulmer; a sister, Esther Dittenhofer; 16 grandchildren; and 32 great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 71 E. Main St., Gowanda.