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Gary Beikirch remembered for years of service to his country and his community

Gary Beikirch Celebration of Life
First Bible Baptist Church/YouTube screenshot
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The grandchildren of Gary Beikirch were among those eulogizing him on Jan. 8, 2022 at the First Bible Baptist Church in Hilton.

The First Bible Baptist Church in Hilton hosted a celebration of life on Saturday for local Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch.

The Greece native died last month after a long battle with cancer. He was a Green Beret medic in the Vietnam War, and was honored for heroic actions that included treating wounded soldiers while he was also wounded himself.

Those who gave eulogies on Saturday included Charnee Buckley. She is Beikirch’s sister-in-law.

Buckley has known Gary Beikirch since she was 17, and said that he was always willing to help others.

“He touched the lives of so many with his love, his faith, his compassion, and his incredible ability to listen. He made us feel as though we mattered,” said Buckley,

Nick Stefanovic is Director of Monroe County Veteran Services. He served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and said that he had a tough time adjusting when he returned home. But Stefanovic credits Beikirch for counseling him and getting him back on track.

"He confronted me in a way only Gary knew how to do with a sincere and genuine love, but also with a relentless determination to find the truth and then start healing,” said Stefanovic. “I gave up my demons to Gary on that day.”

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Max Schulte/WXXI News
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Medal of Honor Recipient and Vietnam War Veteran, Gary Beikirch, reflects on the dedication of a portion of Highland Park near the Vietnam Memorial in his name on May 13, 2021.

Another Greece native, Lt. Colonel Doug Herrmann returned to the area from Saudi Arabia to be at the funeral.

He said that both his personal life and military career were influenced by getting to know Gary Beikirch.

“We would be we would all be amazed if we could see a show of hands here today for those that have been personally encouraged or counseled directly or indirectly by Gary in ways that have impacted your life in significant ways as well,” said Herrmann.

Those in attendance at the service on Saturday for Beikirch included past Medal of Honor recipients as well, including Woody Williams, who served in the Marines in World War II at Iwo Jima.

Beikirch was buried at White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford. The procession on the way to that site included a drive by the Greece Arcadia Middle School where Beikirch was a counselor for many years.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.