Cover photo for Herbert Gerald Zeller's Obituary
Herbert Gerald Zeller Profile Photo

Herbert Gerald Zeller

d. March 25, 2024

Herbert Gerald Zeller

Herbert Gerald Zeller, Nov. 10, 1942 – March 25, 2024

Herbert Zeller — a family man, devoted Catholic and accomplished architect — died on March 25 at 81. The cause was abdominal cancer.

He was Gerry to his wife of more than 54 years, Melissa, and to family; Herb or Herbie to family, friends and colleagues; Dad to his sons and daughter, and Papa Gerry to six grandchildren. He called himself “the old horse” in jest, a commentary on his ceaseless home improvement projects, which were a labor of love.

He was devoted to his family and ever present, even when he had to travel long distances.

To his wife, he was a romantic, a fixer, a dancer, and a loyal companion.

To his children and grandchildren, he was a playmate, builder of block, lego and sand castles and train set ups, batting practice pitcher, kubb, tetris, tennis and chess player.

He was a music enthusiast, artist, traveler, and tinkerer.

He truly lived his Catholic faith, in weekly attendance, in teaching the catechism, and in gathering supplies for unwed mothers. He was active in the pro-life movement for many years. He honored Jesus’ sacrifice with his compassion.

Herbert Gerald Zeller was born Nov. 10, 1942 in Chicago, Ill., to Herbert Julius Zeller, head of consumer product design at Motorola, and Virginia (Esh) Zeller, an architect and homemaker.

Gerry was the first of six children. The young family would soon move to Dundee, outside the city, where they rented before buying lots on which Virginia designed first a small family home in town, and then a larger one by a brook and a forest.

It was during his youth that Gerry developed his love for the West. The family traveled most every summer to camp in the national parks, a passion he continued with his own family.

After a Catholic education at St. Catherine’s grammar school and St. Edward High School, he graduated in 1960, and enrolled at Marquette. After a year, he transferred to Illinois’ flagship university, The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and earned a degree with high honors in architecture. His academic achievement is memorialized in a plaque in the college library.

He received a scholarship to get his masters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which brought him east, where he remained the rest of his life.

It was during his time at MIT that he met Melissa at a school mixer. They married in 1969 in Melissa’s hometown, Winsted.

After MIT, Gerry went to work at The Architects Collaborative, a renowned firm established by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement. It favored simplicity in design, and form that follows function.

There, he led the team that built the high-rise headquarters of Shawmut Bank at One Federal Street, Boston’s 15th tallest building.

After a decade with TAC, Gerry left for a partnership at Hoskins, Scott, Taylor. There, he helped design the athletic facilities in the Radcliffe Quadrangle.

He left after two years to lead the architectural practice at Camp, Dresser and McKee, where his industrial designs won prizes and took him to far off places, including Singapore, Egypt and Hong Kong.

With Melissa, in 1970 he bought a five-story Victorian brownstone in Boston’s South End against the advice of his father and father-in-law because he was attracted to its history and interested in reviving the neighborhood. He found merit, in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, in living in a diverse city.

Their first son, Shawn, was born in 1974 amidst the renovations.
During this time, Gerry co-founded the Committee of Citizens for a Balanced South End.

The group fought city urban renewal plans to clear run-down Victorian townhouses and replace them with large, nondescript public housing projects. Gerry and the committee argued that preservation and renovation of the existing low-rise buildings and the distribution of low-income Bostonians in largely market-rate housing throughout the city would be better for the city, and the poor, alike.

Andrew came in 1981, and Caitlyn in 1984.

Gerry and Melissa in November 1982 bought a summer home on Allerton Hill, in Hull on Massachusetts’ South Shore.

Gerry would commute to Longs Wharf by ferry from Hull’s Pemberton Pier, then ride his Peugeot bicycle to work. In Hull, Gerry would become a prolific gardener, kayaker, carousel rider, and body surfer.

After applying his skills and knowledge to moving the town’s historic carousel to its current location in Hull after the closure of Paragon Park in 1984, he served as adviser to the Friends of the Paragon Carousel.

Following his retirement from CDM in 2008, Gerry increased his involvement in the Apollo Club of Boston, the 150-year-old men’s chorus, serving as president, historian, and helper and friend to longtime club director Flossie Dunn. He organized an exhibition on the club’s history at the Boston Public Library and sang at Fenway Park, most recently in August 2023.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa; sons Shawn (Kate) of Washington, D.C., and Andrew (Amanda Goldberg) of Hingham, Mass.; daughter Caitlyn Oates (Sam) of Somerville, Mass.; six grandchildren: Madelyn, Luke, Arabelle, Galen, Delilah and Hazel; sisters Catherine Johnson of Reno, Nev., and Frances Kreplin (Terry) of Sleepy Hollow, Ill., brothers Joseph (Julie Galloway) of Tucson, Ariz., John (Jo Anne) of Huntley, Ill., and Anthony (Lauren) of Brewster, Mass; as well as many nieces and nephews.

His father Herbert died in 2005; his mother Virginia in 2011.

A wake will be held at Pyne Keohane Funeral Home at 21 Emerald St. Hingham, MA on Friday, April 5th from 3-7PM with a Memorial from 6-7PM,  and the Funeral Mass will be held at St. Ann’s Church, 208 Samoset Ave, Hull, MA on Saturday, April 6th at 10:30AM.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Friends of the Paragon Carousel, PO Box 100, Hull, MA 02045.

https://www.paragoncarousel.com/donate

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Herbert Gerald Zeller, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visiting Hours

Friday, April 5, 2024

3:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Pyne Keohane Funeral Home

21 Emerald Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Mass

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Guestbook

Visits: 19

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree