Posted: Mon 2:30 PM, Oct 29, 2012
Funeral Home: Helke
Wallace Gehrke, 83, of Wausau passed away on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at Mt. View Care center.
He was born April 10, 1929 in Merrill to the late Fred and Clara (Schenzel) Gehrke. After graduating from Merrill High School, he was called into service during the Korean War and served as a military policeman. During his first furlough, he married the love of his life, Jean Sommerfeldt on December 29, 1951 at St. Stephen United Church of Christ, Merrill. He joined the Wausau Police Department and retired in 1992 as a detective sergeant after 40 years of service. During his career, Wally was one of Wausau’s first EMTs. He served as a Red Cross instructor, teacher of law enforcement classes at NTC and was on the security team for President Jimmy Carter, Geraldine Farraro and Martin Luther King Jr. He was most proud of being the first and only Wausau police officer to be awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Northwestern University Traffic Institute. After retiring he drove cars for Brickner Motors and was a funeral assistant at Helke Funeral Home. In his younger years, Wally enjoyed playing football receiving the Silver M and Gold M from the Silver M Football Club of Merrill. He also played basketball and church dartball. One of Wally’s proudest accomplishments was coaching and managing the Junior Police Little League team for over 20 years. He played the drums since his high school days playing in several bands including the Merrill City Band and the Larry Schields Band. Wally was a wonderful dancer. Jean and he were members of the Star Dusters dance group and loved dancing to Big Band music at Colonial Ballroom and the different ballrooms around Wausau.
Survivors include his wife, Jean of Wausau, three children, Steven Gehrke of Sun Prairie, Linda Gehrke of Wausau, Stuart (Jody) Gehrke of Merrill, six grandchildren, Rebecca (Brian) Hill, Victoria (Jeremy) Hankins, Cynthia (Ryan) Orvis, Richard (Jennie) Gehrke, Brayden Gehrke, Stephanie (James) Borelli, five great grandchildren, John Gehrke, Steven, James and Elijah Hill, Hunter Hankins, nephew, Gary Schmidt, and nieces, Julie Wiederhoeft and Debbie Snow. Wally was preceded in death by his sister and brother-in-law, Elaine and Harry Schmidt.
Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. Reverend Philip Schneider will officiate. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery, town of Maine with full military honors presented by American Legion Montgomery Plant Post #10. Visitation will be Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Helke Funeral Home and at the church on Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of services. You may sign our family guest book at helke.com.
Our family would like to thank the caring angels at Mt. View Care Center for the kindness and wonderful care they gave Wally and our family during his stay.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family.