WORTHINGTON — One celebrated her 95th birthday on Aug. 25, and the other will celebrate her 95th birthday on Monday; and together, Gladys Berger and Verla Gerdes are marking 76 years of friendship in 2021.
The Worthington women were first introduced in 1945 by their husbands-to-be — close friends LeRoy Berger and Bennie Gerdes — at a gathering for young people at the Assemblies of God church in Worthington. Then 19, the women clicked and forged a friendship that has stood the test of time.
Each raised four children in Worthington, and each has experienced the loss of their husband.
Berger said it was their connection through church, their children and their love for chatter that can be credited for their nearly lifelong friendship.
“We just like to be with each other and do things,” Gerdes said. “Our kids grew up together, and I still talk to her almost every day — she’ll either call me or I’ll call her.”
“We got married and then we went to the same church, and from then on we’ve been pals,” Berger added.
In September, Gerdes’ children — Marvene, Vonda, Loren and Jureen, who all became ministers in the Assemblies of God church — hosted an early 95th birthday party for her. Berger was a special guest, having already marked her milestone birthday in August. Berger’s children include Sandy, Jack, Scott and Rhonda. The eight offspring also forged friendships because of the closeness of their parents.
“I just thank the Lord that we have known each other all these years,” Gerdes said.
“And we still love to gab,” Berger added with a laugh.
That’s what helped both of them get through the long days at home during the height of the global pandemic. They always knew the other was just a phone call away and they could “hang on the telephone,” Berger said.
According to Gerdes’ son, Loren, the two couples traveled together frequently, and both women served together in volunteer ministry positions at Solid Rock Assembly in Worthington.
“They complement, encourage and help each other in various ways, treasuring each day they are able to share together, but also having the assurance that when their lives here on earth come to an end, their friendship will continue on forever in their heavenly home,” Loren said.