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James K. Gehrke

February 5, 2019


James “Jim” K. Gehrke passed away at home in Lake-in-the Hills, Illinois on February 5, 2019 following a two year battle with cancer.  He was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin to Willard “Bill”  and Natalie (Miller) Gehrke and survived by his brothers Craig, and Gary, by his sister-in-law Nancy Olson (Craig), and his niece and nephew, Alice and Bill. Also, he is survived by numerous Gehrke and Miller/Stewart cousins.

Jim was born July 10, 1948.  He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, graduating as an Electrical Engineer.  He went to work for Motorola and spent his entire career in research and development with that firm.  He was a Senior Engineer for Motorola and served on their patent committee as well as with other industry groups.  Jim’s talents and dedication to his work led to numerous patents used in Motorola devices.  Beyond work demands, his inventive mind was still engaged, as evidence by the amazing collection of experimental projects one could find in his van.  In retirement, his engineering and environmental interests drew him towards learning about renewable energy and trying out solar panels on his property.

Family was very important to Jim.  He was an attentive and loving son and nephew to his parents and aunts/uncles, as they needed assistance with age.  Jim always drove several hours north, into Wisconsin, to join in birthday and holiday gatherings, adding his good cheer and friendly banter to such celebrations.  His niece and nephew, Alice and Bill, have fond memories of camping on his land near Lake Arrowhead.  Jim shared with them some of his favorite things, such as biking, paddling, campfires and sunset dinners at a local supper club overlooking the Petenwell Flowage.

Jim enjoyed outdoor activities including hiking (geocaching), sailing, kayaking and canoeing as well as skiing, both downhill and cross country.  He was an avid bicyclist much of his life participating annually in the GRABAAWR week long rides through Wisconsin.  Jim treasured close friendships he developed with his outing companions over the years and miles of playing outdoors.  As a teenager/young adult, he enjoyed motorcycling and was one of the early riders in motocross in Wisconsin earning a closet full of trophies as number 38 in the 125 class.   Also, he enjoyed tinkering with computers or all sorts and immersing himself in online gaming.  His beloved dwarf character, Curmie, will continue to adventure throughout Middle Earth, in spirit! Lastly, Jim’s well-developed interest and skill at working with his investments made him the “go to guy” for family members wanting investment education and advice.

Jim held a space in his heart for animals, especially cats.  He had a habit of rescuing cats he found abandoned and usually had one or two living with him happily.  He will be missed by all the knew him as a thoughtful, considerate and caring friend.

A Celebration of Life will take place at Willow Funeral Home & Cremation Care 1415 W. Algonquin Rd, (one mile east of Randall Rd.) Algonquin, Illinois 60102, on Saturday, April 13, 2019.  This memorial visitation will last from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM, with time for sharing memories at 2:00 PM, and a light lunch following.

Jim’s family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Senior Lifestyle Solutions and at Journey Care Hospice for their support and tender care of Jim.

Please consider a donation in Jim’s memory to The Humane Society, to a group that promotes people coming together in nature to enjoy active play, or to a group of your choice, or if you wish to donate to Cancer research, education and care: the Living Well Cancer Resource Center, 442 Williamsburg Ave., Geneva, IL 60134 or or UW Carbone Cancer Center, 600 Highland Ave, K4/658, Madison, WI 53792-6164 or or American Cancer Society by phone: 202-661-5700, option 3 or

To share a memory, go to the funeral home website at or for more information please call (847) 458-1700

To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral section.


American Legion Service

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