My Profile

Gary Westgerdes
   Vicky and Gary Westgerdes

     I grew up in Coldwater, a small town in Mercer County Ohio I was the second oldest of seven children, the first born came in July of 1955 and the seventh in September of 1962. We had a busy tumultuous but joyous time growing up, it seemed like the carnage would never end. Mom and Dad were great loving parents, of course some things I would have and we all could have done differently, but through it all they maintained a good family example and speaking for myself I know they always loved us. One thing that I did appreciate was that in all the moments of scolding and turmoil we knew we could be forgiven and they did not use any profanity.,_Ohio. 


     My Parents were raised Catholic; Mom in Coldwater, currently “The Coldwater Cluster” and Dad in St. Henry, currently “The St. Henry Cluster” The great majority of southern Mercer County was raised Roman Catholic and we were as well. The Baltimore Catechism presents the Catholic teachings quit well.


     Besides my daily chores at home my first job was as a bicycle newspaper carrier for the Dayton Daily News which I picked up in the seventh grade and reluctantly putting my football dreams on hold. My next job was helping my Dad at the Mercer County Chronicle, Coldwater’s weekly newspaper.


     My first adult job was nice, got paid well ($3.31 per. hr. minimum was only $1.90) but I was laid off after three weeks. Next I was able to find a job in St. Henry at the Beckman & Gast Cannery for $1.90 per hour canning green beans and tomatoes. I also learned to be a professional tomato planter (for one day), sitting on top of what looks like a plow with maybe twelve seats we would place the plant in the metal fingers out in the hot sun for six - eight hours. (Yes, I must confess I did plant one upside down to maintain my sanity and sense of humor). I worked there for fourteen months and at age nineteen decided, under God’s tugging, to join the Navy. In February 1976 I joined the delayed entry program and was set to go to boot camp in October.


     During this break I worked part time with Dad at Bock Printing and Office Supply in Celina. I had money saved up and a motorcycle so my brother and I, third oldest, took our bikes to Florida. We had a great-safe time seeing the beaches, riding and visiting Disney World.


     I completed my boot camp at the US Navy Camp located in the Great Lakes. I had some time to see Chicago, it is beautiful at Christmas and I made it home in time for the Holidays. On New Year’s Eve I left for San Diego California for my “A” schooling. We were called “Mess Management Specialist” today they are called “Culinary Specialist” this job involves: the preparation, storage, accounting, serving etc. of the food. I had the opportunity to serve in all capacities of the field and even got to serve the Admirals. The major blessing of this job is that in the officer’s mess, we worked two days on, three days off, three days on and two days off, out at sea it was every other day.


     After “A” School I was stationed in Norfolk VA awaiting the completion and commissioning of the Aircraft Carrier the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a great ship, I only got sea sick once when they pulled into sixty to forty foot swells to test out the Carrier.


     My shipmates and I saw many great ports or sites; St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands was the first, others include: In Italy – Naples, Rome, Capri, the Vatican, the Coliseum, Venice, Florence and Pisa. In Portugal we visited Lisbon and traveled by train to see a bull fight. In Greece we saw the Parthenon. I was able to visit Israel to see Bethlehem, Jerusalem – the Wailing Wall, the Holocaust Museum and the Temple Mount.


     Just being on the ship was a joy in and of itself; the friendships, the solitude of being alone especially on the flight deck at night (when allowed) and enjoying the flight operations.


     On the IKE'S 42nd Anniversary of the Commissioning, on October 18, 1977, several of us who worked together and were plank owners--members of the first crew met on October 18, 2019 to enjoy a few days together and a chance to take a tour of the IKE! What an awesome time, some of us brought a spouse, friend, or son.

     During my last year of service is when I was having a great time after all this traveling, we were in port at Norfolk and I was jogging to get in shape and working on my abs like “Rocky.” I had to start out slow on my jogging but I worked up to about an hour a day and I was feeling great, I remember telling God that “I really liked this and wouldn’t mind doing it my whole life” shortly after this I was given the job of collecting and keeping the accounts of the officer’s Mess. During the first week my left calf started to hurt, the corpsman said just massage it. The second week it hurt worse I didn’t jog as much the corpsman said use a whirlpool. At the end of the third week I could hardly walk, my leg was all swelled up I went to my last Rock Concert – ACDC & Bad Company –  afterwards, on the way to a bus stop, a policeman outside asked if I was OK I said “Yes.” Finally the corpsman had the Doctor look at my leg and he immediately put me in the hospital (like an old boot camp building). Needless to say I was taken off the ship and put on limited duty until I recovered.


     During my limited duty and the rest of my enlistment I served at the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Virginia  while there I met a several more friends. Before my arrival I received a wake-up call from the Lord, my Doctor had told me that I could have died from a blood clot which had passed through my heart and into my lungs. He said I was lucky to be alive and may only have nine years left to live. Needless-to-say, that began my return to the Lord and my desire to make sure I was right with him. I decided to read his word to see how my life matched up. The Lord used various Christians to lead me back to the Lord and to strengthen my walk.


A thank you to my patient navy Navigators Bible study group I learned a lot with them as we studied God’s word.


     I visited two churches after my conversion or I should say my return to Christ. One friend took me to The Rock Church of Virginia Beach  a charismatic Church. A second took me to a large Baptist church which I cannot remember the name of, they were both quit a different group of sincere Christians. I also attended both Catholic and Protestant services on base until I made my final break from Catholicism.


     While serving at the  Little Creek Amphibious Base I enjoyed using little gospel tracts by Chick Tracts, they were well read by many of my fellow ship/shore-mates.


     I received a great send off from my Little Creek duty station crew upon the last day of my full four years of service, I did enjoy my tour but it seemed like it would never end.


     Some of my early jobs upon my return home included painting rooms at the local nursing home in Coldwater - Briarwood Manor, working at Mercer County Elks Golf Course, house painting, Wendy’s, grass mowing and yes six years in the active Naval Reserve program stationed in Fort Wayne Indiana.


     My first more permanent job began in 1982 with Doll Printing with which I had the pleasure of working with part and full time for twenty-eight years. I had eighteen years in at Doll Printing when I started to work part time at Wright State University Lake Campus here in Celina Ohio. I began at the Lake Campus in 2000 and was hired full time in 2007 - 2021. I retired in October and in May of 2022 I was rehired as part time - present.


     For fifteen years 1980-1995 I served and attended Grace Missionary Church in Celina. There I was baptized and met and married my wife Victoria in 1985.


     I was blessed with her, her three young sons and our daughter and son. I had the joy of coaching pewee and minor league baseball for a total of eleven years in Montezuma and Celina.


     I taught in Sunday school, did Youth Camps in Ludlow Falls and sang in the choir. I also enjoyed playing volleyball and softball and serving as the Church Custodian for nine years from 1986-1995. 


     I used my VA benefits to attend a bible college from January 1986 – May 1992. I graduated from Summit Christian College in Fort Wayne Indiana currently known as Taylor University and formerly as Fort Wayne Bible College. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, with Minors in Pastoral Ministries and Christian Education.


     Other Churches we attended include: North Park Community Church in Lima, Adrian Rogers – Love Worth Finding TV Ministry - watched on channel 44 Lima, Montezuma Methodist Church whose pastor videoed and put together my testimony, Calvary Christian Fellowship of St. Marys and New Horizons Community Church in Rockford.


     In 2010, with much help from a friend, I began developing a website thus founding The Keys of Heaven Ministries.


     More recently I have, after three years of writing and several years of collecting information, authored my first book titled, We Agree! The Tomb Is Open--But What Comes Next? Compare The 2 Most Prominent Gospels in Christendom, Jesus Biblical Gospel, The Message of the Cross! (Gal. 6:14), The Pope's Catholic Gospel, The Message of the Eucharist! (CCC-1327).

     The book was released on July 19, 2020 and is currently available as an eBook at Apple iBooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The paper and hardback editions may be purchased on Amazon, other major vendors and Used Book Sites. Ignore the Coffee Cup, it is not mine. It looks like only Walmart is still displaying/selling it. 

     I updated my book in 2021, which was released in May. Updated were the front and back covers. A few additions were made, a Topical Index, a P. S. concerning Jesus's 2nd Coming, and a story/testimony of Sivini a revenge  murderer.

After finishing my book in 2020 I began attending a church in July, the Celina Baptist Church. A brother in-law was saved in year 2022, and I started attending the weekly men's group sermon discussion at his Church, Christ Chapel of Ft. Recovery Ohio. In October of 2023 I began attending Christ Chapel of Ft. Recovery Ohio and my wife Victoria joined me in November of 2023. All the Churches we have attended have been a blessing and a learning step in God's plan for our spiritual growth and service, praise God for our growing Church family, and for past and present brothers and sisters in Christ we have met and served with for his glory.

Since 2021 I have expanded my evangelism pamphlet/tract and brochure ministry, constantly updating and creating new resources. Praise God!

Today is April 6, 2024. Praise God! This year I am celebrating my 61st year as a child of God and follower/believer of Jesus Christ my God and Savior!







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