Cover photo for Ellen Gehrke's Obituary
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1938 Ellen 2017

Ellen Gehrke

August 16, 1938 — February 2, 2017

Ellen (Heck) Gehrke, age 78, passed away peacefully at Brookdale Camino Del Sol care home in Sun City West, Arizona on Thursday February 2, 2017. Ellen was born on August 16, 1938 in (old) Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. and lived her life in the District of Columbia and its suburbs until her retirement in 1997 when she moved to Arizona. Her parents were Alfred and Lillian (Flanagan) Heck. Ellen, the fourth of six children, was baptized and confirmed at Christ Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C. She attended Eastern Elementary school and Paul Junior High School in Washington. Her father, working for the Navy Department, was transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Ellen graduated from John Harris High School. Returning to Washington, Ellen met Bob Gehrke at the Walther League youth group at Christ Lutheran Church. Bob proposed marriage in the springtime under the pink and white cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. Ellen accepted and they were married September 13, 1958 at Christ Lutheran Church. She was very active in her church, in her work life, and in her social life. She taught Sunday School for many years, was active in the Altar Guild of her churches, the Valparaiso University Guild, and she participated in the construction of Rose Bowl floats for the Lutheran Layman's League. Her work included office positions for the Royal McBee typewriter company, the Washington Heart Association, and later the A. S. Aloe of Washington, D.C., a medical equipment supply company. She also worked as a Bank Teller, and later as Head Teller, at American National Bank. Ellen changed her line of work and became an Account Executive at Robinson-Engelhardt & Co, Insurance, which launched her career in the insurance line of business. Ellen later owned Heck Agency, an exclusive agent for the Erie Insurance Company. Another change in her line of work found her in the travel industry. She was a Travel Consultant at Foreign Travel, a Travel Consultant at Aspen Hill Travel Consultants, and finally, a Travel Consultant at Inter-Nations Travel Service. Benefitting from her work in the travel industry, Ellen and Bob enjoyed travel to over 30 countries on four continents. After her retirement and relocation to Surprise, Arizona, Ellen was very active in many social groups. She enjoyed playing golf, was a charter member of the lawn bowling club, a member of the ladies putters, sewing and quilting clubs, various Red Hat clubs, and a Group Therapy social group. She enjoyed playing Mahjong, Mexican Dominoes, Hand & Foot games with her many friends. Ellen is survived by her husband Bob; her daughter and son-in-law, Diane and Buzz Schrage, and her granddaughters Kelsey and Lauren Schrage; and by her daughter-in-law, Paulette Lemnah and her granddaughters Olivia and Paige Gehrke. Also by her brothers Alfred and Arthur Heck, and her sisters Emilie Gewecke and Alva Loudermilk. She was preceded in death by her son David. Ellen is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews. The memorial service will be Sunday February 12, 1:00pm, at Crown of Life Lutheran Church, Sun City West. Rev. Phill Robbins will officiate. Inurnment will be private at the Columbarium at Crown of Life Lutheran Church. The Regency Mortuary is assisting the family with the arrangements. A memorial gift in her name is planned to be donated to the Hospice of the Valley. Online memories and thoughts may be made at

Service Information

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 1:00pm, Crown Of Life Lutheran Church

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