George Gehrken

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 13, 2010

George Andrew Gehrken, 89, died Aug 11th, 2010 at Southampton Memorial Hospital with family at his side. George was born Feb 24th, 1921 in Charleston, West Virginia to Edith and Henry C. Gehrken. He attended Charleston High School and later Millard Prep School. He continued his education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute as a member of the Corps of Cadets where he received a B.S. in Forestry and M.Sc. in Wildlife Management. He was also proud to be a lifetime member of the German Club at V.P.I. Upon graduation, he served with honor as a major in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theatre from 1943-46 and then continued his service in the VA National Guard from 1949-66 and the GA National Guard from 1966-71.
After completing his service in the Army he became employed by the VA Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries from 1948-57 and then by Union Camp Corporation as the Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation from 1957-86. His love of the outdoors was shown in his leisure activities as well. He was known as a naturalist and an avid hunter and is fondly remembered as the “Birdfeeder Man” among the staff and residents of East Pavilion where he took it upon himself to install and fill the birdfeeders there for many years.
George was an active participant in the community where he was a member of the Hunterdale Ruritan Club, the Concerned Citizens of Responsible Government, the Courtland Ruritan Club, the Nottoway Investment Club, and the Southamption County Historical Society. He was also a member of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin, VA until he moved to Savannah, GA where he was a member of the Christ Episcopal Church from 1966-88. He served on the vestry there until he moved back to Courtland, VA where he then was a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of marrying his grade-school sweetheart, Caroline P. Petty, on Oct 28th, 1951. Together, they had 5 children and 12 grandchildren. For those who knew George, he appeared to them never to be happier than when he was with Caroline and his family. He is survived by his five children, Sarah Page G. Stroud (Dr. Stephen B. Stroud) of Virginia Beach, VA; Susan G. King (Dr. Philip King) of Marietta, GA; Dr. G. Andrew Gehrken Jr. (Ms. Anna Gehrken) of Martinsville, VA; Caroline G. Hauser (Rudy Hauser) of Beaufort, SC; Anne G. Buck (Greg Buck) of Charleston, SC; and his 12 grandchildren, Robert A. Burgess, Dr. Zachary Stroud (Dr. Linda Stroud), Michael King, Drew Gehrken, Greer Gehrken, Reid Gehrken, Dr. Leigh Hauser, Blaine Randolph Hauser, Emily Buck, Thomas Watkins, and Liza Watkins; sister, Louise G. Howie (Jim); two nieces and two nephews.
The family would especially like to thank the nursing staff of Southamption Memorial Hospital and East Pavilion, the members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and all of his neighbors and friends who took care of him and provided him with their loving support. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Scholarship Fund, 143 Brodie Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 or St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, 22430 Main Street, Courtland, VA 23837. The family will receive friends at his home Monday, Aug 16th from 6-8 PM. A graveside service, with military honors, will be held Tuesday, Aug 17th at 11 AM at Riverside Cemetery in Courtland, VA with reception immediately following at his home on Rochelle Street.