William Gehrke (1926-2023)
July 20, 2023
William Gehrke passed away in the rest home, with family members by his side. Please join us for a celebration of life at the Lutheran Church in Seeley Lake on July 21 at 3 p.m.
William was born Jan. 26, 1926, to William F. Gehrke and Elsie Stone Gehrke in Centuria, Wisconsin. He attended Balsam Lake High School where he enjoyed playing basketball and football. He was offered a contract to play with the Vikings, but turned it down to enlist in the navy during WWII. He was sent to the South Pacific until 1946, and returned back to Centuria. There were not many jobs available, so he decided to go back to Seattle to reenlist. The train stopped in Chester, Montana and a man offered him a job. A few years later he returned to Wisconsin where he met Ardyce. After about three months they married on Dec. 24, 1950. They did not stay long in Wisconsin, but went back to Chester, Montana.
Children started coming and again work was scarce so they returned back to Wisconsin. After six years in Balsam Lake they decided to go back to Montana and lived in Lincoln. There he worked at the saw mill and then went into the mine. In 1968, they decided to move to Seeley Lake, where he worked in the mill and then became a sawyer. After a few years of sawing he started repairing saws and started his business Willy Bills Saw Shop. He would go to work in the early morning as a sawyer and then come home and fix everyone’s saws so they would be ready for the next day. He did this for many years and then retired from the woods and went full time in the shop repairing and selling saws. He then added selling motorcycles.
After many years at the saw shop, he sold the business and retired. He started traveling more every winter. They would load up the camper and head to Texas and return in the spring. Over the years they traveled to nearly every state in the U.S. It was very hard for him to finally give up traveling. He loved adventures: fishing, camping, hunting, visiting, traveling, laughing and life. (We will miss you, Dad!)
William is survived by his children: Bill (Cheryl), Julie, Warren (DeAnn), Curtis, Carl (Andrea) and Karla (Vince); 9 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Ardyce, four siblings and his son-in-law, Donald Pocha.