Lloyd Gerber, 87, a retired chief executive and president of Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corp., who had a second career as a cowboy poet and was a featured guest on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” died July 16 at his home in Eagle, Idaho. He had complications from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Mr. Gerber practiced law in New Mexico and Utah before becoming general manager in 1969 at Robinson Terminal, an Alexandria-based newsprint storage and handling facility and Washington Post subsidiary.
He was promoted to vice president and then took over as chief executive and president in 1980. He retired five years later and moved to Idaho.
Lloyd M. Gerber (his middle name was just the initial) was born April 14, 1927, in Mapleton, Utah. He was one of eight siblings and grew up on his family’s sheep farm in Wellington, Utah.
In the 1940s, the Gerbers moved to a sprawling cattle ranch along Utah’s Green River in Desolation Canyon. Mr. Gerber’s twin brother, Floyd, was killed at 16 in a farming accident.
In 1947, Mr. Gerber served on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Louisiana. He was a 1953 political science graduate of Brigham Young University and a 1957 graduate of George Washington University law school.
His wife of 53 years, Elizabeth McKinney Gerber, died in 2005. Survivors include eight children, Steven Gerber of Salt Lake City, Mark Gerber of Tooele, Utah, Nathan Gerber of Atlanta, Kathryn Gerber of Eagle, Julie Smith of Moapa, Nev., Lisa Lyons of Purcellville, Susan Berning of Baltimore and Lori Jarvis of Greensboro, N.C.; a sister; 37 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
While working as a lawyer in Utah, Mr. Gerber and two partners bought a 2,400-acre ranch along the Strawberry River, where he helped raise cattle.
After retiring from Robinson Terminal, Mr. Gerber wrote several books of poems based on his rustic life growing up in the West.
At a cowboy poetry reading in Elko, Nev., he was spotted by a Carson scout who invited him to perform on the “Tonight Show” in February 1988.
The poem Mr. Gerber chose to read was “It’s a Matter of Taste,” about a particular method of castrating lambs that involves biting the testicles off.
As he recalled in a book of poems, Mr. Gerber learned the practice from his father.
“I watched Pop’s teeth become fewer and fewer, and I hoped that I would be gone from the sheep business before his teeth were gone,” Mr. Gerber wrote. “I was not.”