|Earl Lawrence Gehrke|
|Written by TRF Times|
Roseau - Earl Lawrence Gehrke entered eternity on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 at the age of 83. Many will remember Mr. Gehrke as their junior high math teacher or because of his numerous contributions to church and community.
Funeral services were held Monday, Nov. 19 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Roseau. Interment was held at the Hope Cemetery.
Earl was born December 28, 1928 near Aneta, N.D. He was the eldest of the five children of Julius Gehrke and (Hanna) Sofie (Hillesland) Gehrke. After a childhood on the farm serving as a mischievous role-model to his siblings, Earl graduated from high school in Aneta. He earned his B.S. at Mayville State College, and later added two years of graduate courses focused on math education, library science and English.
His teaching career began in Petersburg, N.D. In June 1951, Earl married Dorothy Kvaal of Nekoma, N.D. The newlyweds were soon separated because of the Korean War; Earl was ultimately sent to Alaska. Dorothy joined him there when she was seven months pregnant and their first daughter, Erlene, was born in Anchorage. Erlene would later follow Earl's example and have a fulfilling teaching career.
After his military service, Earl and his family moved to Langdon, N.D., where his second daughter, Pam, was born. She inherited his attention to detail and insistence on doing a job thoroughly, which has been essential in her research position at Mayo Clinic. In 1956 Earl began teaching junior high math in Roseau. he remained with the Roseau school until he retired in 1986.
Merlin was the first of two boys born into the family. He gained his father's love of cars, nature, and camping, and shared those interests with his own boys. Son Dwight was born in 1961. He pursued his father's love of math and music in college, and now exemplifies Earl's passion for travel.
Earl sang tenor with the church choir for many years. He also participated in the Kittson County Barbershop Chorus, and he and Dorothy made trips to Grand Forks to hear good barbershop music. They were also members of the Roseau Concert Series and attended many school performances. Earl's musicality was a gift he passed on to all of his children.
As a faithful member of Messiah Lutheran Church, Earl assisted with maintenance and served as a deacon. He was private about his faith, but his kindness and actions spoke boldly. He was extremely patriotic, and he impressed that attitude upon his children. He had been active in the American Legion and was still in touch with some members of his army battalion until the time of his death. In 2010, he found it very meaningful to revisit the military installations in Alaska where he had served.
Getting out and visiting with people was important to Earl. That included volunteering at the Roseau County Fair and belonging to a number of education organizations. He enjoyed being part of the Roseau County Historical Society and the Roseau Centennial Committee. He was passionate about helping to create and maintain the Pioneer Village. He also belonged to the Roseau Deer Hunters Association, The Committee on Aging, Friends of the Library, and the National Rifle Association. He was a Senior Medical and Senior Center Volunteer and was active with the Boy Scout organization for many years.
Fishing, hunting, camping, gardening, and helping on the family farms were other favorite activities for Earl. He helped build and paint houses during the summer months. He loved family reunions. Later he looked forward to visiting The Four Seasons Senior Center and going for dumplings at Nelson's Cafe every Tuesday. Dorothy spoiled him with frequent trips to Dairy Queen. His was a productive and honorable life.
Earl is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy, who was his devoted caretaker throughout his illness. He leaves behind daughters Erlene (Fran) DeCock of Rochert, and Pamela Hammond of Rochester; sons Merlin (Diane) Gehrke of Davenport, Iowa, and Dwight Gehrke of East Grand Forks. His grandchildren are Nathan (Ellie Olson) DeCock, Austin (Tara) DeCock, Karl Hammond, Dena (Joel) Weinberger, Hans Gehrke, and Aaron Gehrke, and one great-grandchild, Sophia Kathleen DeCock. Earl is also survived by two brothers, Charles (Helen) Gehrke and Gene (Bonnie) Gehrke and by two sisters, Irene (David) Halverson and Juliet Aslakson. He was preceded in death by his mother and father.
An online guest book is available at: www.helgesonfuneralhome.com.