Born in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Monsignor Daniel James Gercke attended St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1891 and completed his theological studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook. Ordained by Archbishop Patrick John Ryan on June 1, 1901, he served as curate at St. Joseph's Church in Girardville and afterwards at Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia.
Briefly serving at St. Mary's in Philadelphia before going to Vigan City, Philippines, in 1903, he served as vicar general of the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres from 1910 to 1919. Named a Domestic Prelate by Pope Benedict XV in 1915, he returned to Philadelphia in 1919, being named rector of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
Appointed the third Bishop of Tucson, Arizona, by Pope Pius XI on June 21, 1923, he received his episcopal consecration on the following November 6 from Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty, assisted by Bishops John Bernard MacGinley and James Paul McCloskey, becoming thus the first-American born to lead the Tucson Diocese. Retiring from office on September 28, 1960; he was named Archbishop of the Titular See of Cotyaeum by Pope John XXIII.
Msgr. Gercke died at 5.15 am., on March 19, 1964 at his residence, 192 S. Stone, on the grounds of San Agustin Cathedral, aged 89. Despite progressively failing health due to his age, he generally arose every morning to assist with Mass and receive communion. Then he would have breakfast and spend most of the rest of the day in bed. Observing this routine up to the day before his death, with no unusual signs that the end was close at hand, about eight in the evening he took a turn for the worse with his physician, Dr. Humberto C. Gonzalez, summoned to attend him. Bishop Francis J. Green was with him in his last hours and administered anointment rites. Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass was sung at San Agustin at b Bishop Green with Cardinal James Mclntyre of Los Angeles presiding. Msgr. Timothy F. Manning, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, preached the sermon. Burial followed at Holy Hope Cemetery in front of the altar of Saint Thomas which Archbishop Gercke consecrated in 1956.