Moline - Gary Lorenz, 87 of Moline/East Moline, passed away peacefully March 4, 2023 at home surrounded by family.
Funeral Mass will be 10 am, March 11, 2023 at Christ The King Catholic Church, Moline. Visitation will be 4-7 pm March 10th at Esterdahl Mortuary and Crematory, Ltd., Moline. Entombment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery, East Moline. Memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research, Lewy Body Dementia Association or charity of choice.
Gary was born March 29, 1935 at home in Fingal, North Dakota to Paul and Jennie Lorenz. His parents moved him and his older brother, Duane, at young ages to Clear Lake, Iowa where his father was instrumental in building the first runway at the Mason City airport. Gary and his brother both graduated from Clear Lake High School and both were employed by their father’s house moving and construction company. They were on the crew that moved a house across a frozen Clear Lake, a well publicized event at that time. These experiences would be reflected in his future endeavors.
Clear Lake native MaryEllen (Nyhus), his beloved bride and best friend of 65 years, knew Gary’s mother first. Jennie was one of her teachers. Jennie and MaryEllen became very close over the years, long before he and MaryEllen would become a couple. In 1956, Gary found himself home on leave and he offered MaryEllen a ride home from her carhop job at The Lighthouse A&W in Clear Lake. The rest was history. They married shortly after and began their journey. They never dreamt they would have had the life they had together.
Pinned very recently in gratitude for his service in the Marine Corps, Gary served during the Korean War, first as a clerk to the Chief Warrant Officer, and then he worked on helicopters. Using the GI Bill and aspiring to be a lawyer, he attended Mason City Junior College and Northern Iowa University until switching gears to pursue a career in crane and heavy equipment sales with Link-Belt Speeder, a manufacturer of construction cranes and excavators, where he tested at the top of the class in training.
Link-Belt was just the first of many sales and management positions Gary held in his career at various companies before starting his own businesses. Sargent Engineers, P&H, Grove Manufacturing, American and Gleason Cranes were all just stepping stones to Gary’s 1978 opportunity to run Dan Hamm, a rigging and machinery moving contractor, in St. Louis, which he successfully turned around. This was also where he designed and engineered the first hydraulic gantry crane that he would later manufacture, rent and sell all over the world. He then co-founded Linden-Lorenz Rigging Company in 1980 in Mt. Joy, Iowa, a rigging and machinery moving company performing plant maintenance and heavy machinery moving projects at many of the big plants in and near the Quad Cities, including several of the John Deere and Caterpillar plants. Riggers Manufacturing was also co-founded by Gary in 1980 to manufacture hydraulic gantry cranes to rent and sell to other rigging and machinery moving companies across the country. He pioneered the lease and rental of this type of equipment through his company Rigging Equipment Company.
In 1983, Gary sold Riggers Manufacturing to his partners and started 4 Point Lift Systems Inc in Moline, now in East Moline. He went on to design, manufacture, lease and sell the 4 Point Lift System hydraulic gantry cranes and many other types of specialized heavy lifting equipment, like nuclear cask transporters, and machinery moving accessories, all over the world through a network of dealers and distributors established mostly by himself through relationships built and maintained in his prior years selling cranes and other conventional heavy lifting equipment. He obtained multiple patents on his designs. In 1994, Gary acquired Badger Hydraulics, a telescopic cylinder manufacturer. Renamed Mobile Cylinders, Rock Island, Illinois, Gary started manufacturing all of the hydraulic and telescopic cylinders Lift Systems needed to manufacture their heavy lifting equipment. Gary then acquired Riggers Manufacturing in 2002 and continued manufacturing Riggers’ product line under Riggers Manufacturing’s name. MaryEllen and Gary traveled the world and made many beautiful friendships through their travels, most of which were business related. 2005 presented the opportunity to sell his businesses and retire, which he did. He continued to consult on heavy lifting projects and the proper use of his equipment.
He helped a number of people start their own companies. Heavy Lift & Engineering (now Seither & Cherry) Davenport, Iowa; Inkra (now Krah Gmbh), Pfedelbach, Germany; Lift Systems Canada, Woodstock, Ontario; Heavy Lift Canada, Woodstock, Ontario; Megalift, Montreal; Liftequip, Cleveland, Ohio: Rigging Gear Sales, Dixon, Illinois; and Hydraulic Solutions Inc, Moline, Illinois. All of these businesses were directly related to the manufacturing, sales, leasing and project-use of his equipment.
Gary was passionate about the industry and committed himself to change and improvements by being a very active member of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA), a large international association with members throughout the world. He served as Chairman of the Crane and Rigging Group, and Chairman of the Allied Membership Group, and he was the only member to have been Chairman of those two very different groups within the Association. Also the first Allied member to be elected to the Board of Directors, he went on to be the first Allied member elected to serve as an officer of the Association. From Vice President to President, then Chairman and Past Chairman, Gary was then further honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. For many years he was also a judge of the Rigging Job of the Year contest after winning the SC&RA Rigging Job of the Year in 1981 for a complicated installation of a large press at John Deere Davenport Works.
Gary and MaryEllen enjoyed dancing, skiing, tennis, and most of all golf. Long time active members of Short Hills Country Club in East Moline, they also enjoyed memberships at Oakwood, Rock Island Arsenal and TPC, and they could be found golfing, dancing, dining and entertaining at all of them. They were very good dancers and especially loved jazz, blues, big band, and rock and roll. Gary loved cars and the latest and greatest technology. Louie L’amour books and many others were read over and over again by this avid reader, and his family members will cherish especially those. Friends and family alike knew that Gary had a sweet tooth and loved MaryEllen’s cooking and desserts, especially her cookies and peanut brittle. He would find them no matter how hard she tried to hide them, including in the trunk of her car. Fast thinking retorts and a well-seasoned wonderful dry sense of humor will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him, as will his facial expressions and laugh. Gary loved spending time with his family and his friends and also Charlie, the Janis family’s beloved dog.
Gary is survived by his wife of 65 years, MaryEllen, daughters Lori Lorenz-Just (Kevin) and Lisa Janis (Jeff), daughters-in-law Jennifer Semroska (Rob) and Sherri Lawrence, grandchildren Nathaniel Lorenz (Jessica), Sarah Langiano (Michael), Jason Just, Janell Just, Jacie Beebe (David), Alexandria Janis and Samuel Semroska, great grandchildren Beckett Lorenz, Josiah and Selah Beebe, and brother-in-law Allan Nyhus (Carolyn). He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Duane, sons Scott and Christopher, granddaughter Lyndsae and niece Brenda Lorenz-Smith.
Memories may be shared on the tribute wall.