David Elton Gehrke, age 67, of Hutchinson, died Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, at his home.
He was born June 1, 1943, in New Ulm, the youngest of five children of Elton and Grace (Jensen) Gehrke. David was baptized as an infant and later confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm.
He attended parochial school at St. Pauls through eighth grade, and graduated from New Ulm High School.
David served his country in the military in 1962, during the Cuban Crisis.
He attended Mankato State University, and later moved to Washington DC to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover. He also received a degree in electronics.
David accepted a service representative position with 3M Company in Minnesota, and worked for 3M for 30 years. He took an early retirement in 1997, at age 53.
While in Washington, DC, David met the love of his life, Nellie. They shared 45 years of marriage.
David thoroughly enjoyed working in his woodworking and metalworking shop and produced many interesting items, including a spinning wheel, rocking horses, many specialty and kitchen cabinets, parts for old machinery and cars, and a gas light for a hearse. He and Nell also owned a small farm with a sawmill and enjoyed spending time there with the whole family, working and playing and then eating picnic lunches.
When David was 17, he could not afford a car, so he built an 1896 Ford Quadracycle, based on Henry Ford’s first automobile from a picture in an encyclopedia. He and Nell showed it off in many parades. He truly loved getting dressed up in period costume and sharing his story about his self-built automobile.
Together, David and Nell enjoyed traveling, working in their shop at home, spending time on their small farm, on the dance floor for a fox-trot, polka or country swing, or spending time with family and friends.
David especially enjoyed his children and grandchildren.
An active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson since 1970, David used his God-given talents to beautify the church by helping to design and build the lighted cross in the church sanctuary, and other projects. He also served on various boards and the church council for many years.
David was preceded in death by his parents, Elton and Grace Gehrke; a brother, Gordon; and his father-in-law, Elmer Brittain.
He is survived by his loving wife, Nell; daughter Stacy and husband Keith Messner; son Eric and wife Kari; grandchildren Mitchell and Alex Messner and Madilyn and Morgan Gehrke; sisters Jeanne and husband Don Cordes of New Ulm, Lorna and husband James Lipsey of Houston, TX, and Marie and husband Gary Carlson of Lafayette, MN; a sister-in-law, JoAnn Shofer of Howard Lake; nieces and nephews, and many beloved friends.
A memorial service took place Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson with the Rev. Greg Tobison officiating, with interment of the urn at Oakland Cemetery in Hutchinson.
Visitation was Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, and continued Wednesday, Oct. 13 for one hour prior to the service at the church.
Arrangements were by the Johnson Funeral Home of Dassel.