OBITUARY: Gerald Paul Dyck

Gerald Paul Dyck, 80, of Assonet, Mass., died peacefully in his home July 23, 2019. Born April 4, 1939, in Newton, Gerald was the son of the Walter Henry Dyck and Agnes Schmidt, and stepson of Martha (Suderman) Dyck. He was husband to Helga Edvardsen Dyck to whom he was married for 29 years.
Gerald spent most of his life devoted to studying, performing, conducting, composing or teaching music. He received a bachelor of arts degree in music from Bethel College, North Newton, and a master’s degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. He was the director of the Greater New Bedford Choral Society for 44 years, a position which brought him much joy. During his tenure, he composed many choral works performed by the group for which he received many accolades. He was organist and choir director for various area churches throughout his life, and a music teacher in the Dartmouth schools for 35 years.
In 1960-63, Gerry served in Chiang Rai, Thailand, with the Mennonite Central Committee’s PAX program teaching English and music. There he developed a passion for Northern Thai culture and “Lanna” music, returning 1967-71 teaching at the Thailand Theological Seminary in Chiang Mai. He contributed extensive research to the Thai community, by way of field recordings of local musicians and photographic documentation of how instruments were made. His recordings have been archived at UCLA, Indiana University, as well as at Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Gerald also studied at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, and taught music at Bluffton College in Ohio before settling in the Dartmouth area.
Gerry’s other passion was astronomy. He was an avid amateur astronomer, builder of his own telescopes and observatories, and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where, over the course of three decades, he contributed more than 150,000 variable star observations, some of which were used by NASA. In 2012, Gerry was awarded the 43rd AAVSO Merit Award.
In the 1990s, Gerald developed a fascination with Wales on a trip to England and decided to learn Welsh. In 1997, Gerald was awarded Welsh Poems-Learner of the year, and in 1998 he was awarded for his winning musical entries in the Drych Eisteddfod-Post.
Survivors include his wife; four daughters, Ilse Dyck, Heidi Dyck, Laura (Dyck) Eckert, her husband Jamie Eckert, and children Benjamin and Samuel, Kirsten (Dyck) O’Dell, her husband Mark O’Dell and children Cameron and Amanda; three stepsons, Rick Magrath, his wife Debra and sons Nathan and Ian, Aaron Magrath, his wife Leah and children Trevor and Alyssa, Gunnar Magrath and his son Matthew; sister Evelyn (Dyck) Bertsche and husband John Bertsche; stepsister Delores Bartel and husband Marvin Bartel; and stepsister-in-law Elvera Suderman. Gerry is lovingly remembered by his many friends, choristers, musicians, students and fellow stargazers.
Gerald was preceded in death by his former wife Edith (Fagerbourg) Dyck, brother Gordon Dyck and stepbrother Charles Suderman.
A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 635 Purchase St., New Bedford, MA 02740. Reception to follow. Donations may be made in his memory to the Greater New Bedford Choral Society at GNBCS.org or to the Humane Society & Shelter SouthCoast.