A strong and adventurous woman

Published in the May 5, 2016 edition

NORTH READING — Mrs. Clara (Ruhland) Gerke, of North Reading, passed away peacefully in her sleep at age 104 at the Meadowview Nursing Center on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

Clara was born in Bavaria, Germany on Dec. 15, 1911, one of nine children of the late Joseph and Marie (Huber) Ruhland. At the age of 17, she set out independently and bravely emigrated to the United States. She lived in Buffalo, N.Y. briefly but moved to Manhattan seeking more freedom. Ever resourceful, she found employment as a traveling companion for a Manhattan woman.

While ice skating in Central Park in 1935, she met Oscar Gerke and they were married a year later. They moved to Long Island in 1938 where they raised two sons, Robert and Raymond. A strong and adventurous woman, Clara shared a love for outdoor sporting with her husband, and sons. Trips to the Adirondacks and the Catskills for skiing, camping, canoeing and kayaking were family activities that Clara loved. She was a charter member of the Touring Kayak Club of New York and long–time member of the Long Island Ski Club. Clara also enjoyed gardening and playing the piano and zither. With four of her eight siblings in the United States, reunions with family in the New York area were a highlight. Clara and Oscar lived on Long Island until retiring to Southport, S.C. in 1978. After the death of Oscar, Clara lived independently until moving to the Boston area in 1997. She will be remembered for her strength, her grace and her fierce independence.

Clara was the beloved wife of the late Oscar Gerke with whom she shared 48 years of marriage. She was the devoted mother of Robert Gerke of Lexington and Raymond A. Gerke of Reading. She is predeceased by her eight siblings. She was the caring aunt of Jack Mullinger of White Plains, N.Y., Ann Verticchio of Greenport, N.Y. and Rosemary Ring of Kentfield, Calif. and several nieces and nephews in Germany.

Funeral Services to celebrate Clara’s life were held at the First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley St., Boston on Friday, April 29. Contributions in her memory may be made to the First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116.