Gerdi, beloved mother and Gram, passed away on January 8, 2023. Born Sara Geraldine Hord in Alliance, NE on June 26, 1935, she was preceded in death by her parents Thomas B. and Aurel Hord, brothers Thomas F. Hord and Douglas B. Hord, and nephews Timothy and Montgomery (Monte) Hord. She is survived by daughters Heather Heath Certo, Holly Heath and husband Jerry Thompson, grandchildren Brittany Certo and Robert Heath Certo and wife Krysten, two great-granddaughters, Mia, and Jordyn Certo, and eight nieces and nephews.
A fourth generation Nebraskan and descendant of Thomas Benton Hord (1850-1910), Gerdi was very proud of her heritage and family. Her great-grandfather was an influential, industrious entrepreneur, who invested in range cattle ranches in Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska, feed yards in eastern Nebraska, then expanded in the 1900’s into banking, grain elevators and other ventures. Thomas Benton’s son and grandson (Gerdi’s father), as well as Gerdi and her brothers, carried on the legacy of commerce and community service making the Hord Family a significant part of Nebraska and regional history.
Gerdi’s early years were spent in Alliance, NE, and the ranch in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She attended boarding school at Brownell Hall in Omaha, then returned to Alliance to graduate high school. She continued her education at Mills College in Oakland, CA and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Gerdi was an active member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, and through one of her “sisters” met and married Stan Heath, professional football player, in 1955.
Stan and Gerdi joined the Hord family business, working for the Lakeside Ranch Company, residing first at the ranch, then moving to Alliance. The cattle ranch was host to many visitors – whether to participate in branding, 4th of July celebrations, pheasant hunting, or just to “work” the ranch – life in the sandhills was never dull! The most memorable event was a Look Magazine cover photo shoot and fashion show in the late 60’s, featuring a renowned fashion designer, models, and actors from Los Angeles. Gerdi and other rancher’s wives (led by Aileen Black) were included as models in the show and magazine photo spread, and Stan and neighboring ranchers provided security for the fashion, furs and jewels!
Upon (her divorce) and the sale of the ranch in the late 70’s, Gerdi moved back to Lincoln where she worked for upscale retailer Hovland-Swanson as a model and fashion-consultant. She also spent a year in Los Angeles as a personal shopper at Bullocks (now Macy’s) Sherman Oaks. Her other passions included astrology, politics, AA/Valley Hope and sports, especially Big Red Football! A moment of a lifetime was when she was selected to the DACOWITS Committee under President Reagan, visiting military bases around the world in support of women in the military. In 1989, Gerdi moved to Scottsdale, AZ to be close to her aging parents, and worked at Neiman Marcus until retirement. Gerdi was also active in her community serving on her HOA Board of Directors.
Gerdi was beautiful, sophisticated, and always a class act. She was devoted to her family – loving, generous, and supportive, and an amazing friend and colleague. She will be deeply missed but is now a spectacular ANGEL watching over us from above!
Celebration of Life in Scottsdale, AZ on January 20th, 2023 for family and friends
Burial in Alliance, NE (date TBD)
Donations in Gerdi’s memory to The Valley Hope Association, Norton, KS