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Carolyn Gehrke

Carolyn Lee Gehrke, 77, of Spicer, passed away on Sunday afternoon, September 26, at Unity Hospital in Fridley, MN.

A celebration of life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 14, at Calvary Lutheran Church.  Interment will be at the Spicer City Cemetery.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.  A rrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar.  www.petersonbrothers.com

Carolyn Lee (Tostenson) Gehrke was born February 27, 1944 to Ernest (Bud) Tostenson and Eleanor (Wallace) Tostenson at the Montevideo hospital. She grew up on the family farm north of Montevideo. She was baptized and confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church in rural Watson. Carolyn attended school through 7th grade at rural District 72, then Montevideo and Milan High Schools, graduating in 1962. She attended the University of Minnesota, Morris and Willmar Community Technical College. Carolyn was employed by Chippewa County Welfare Department from 1965 to 1969. She was united in marriage to Ronald Dale Gehrke on June 21, 1969, adopting Ron’s daughters Debra and Vicki in 1972. Ron and Carolyn welcomed daughters Margaret in 1970 and Elizabeth in 1985. In 1968, Carolyn was the first instructor for the Chippewa County 4-H dog project, later running the project in Kandiyohi County and starting additional dog projects in several area counties. She served as judge for 4-H dog shows and taught dog obedience classes for the City of Willmar. She loved animals, reading, and jigsaw puzzles, and also enjoyed sewing and cooking. She worked part time at the Spicer library and attended Willmar Community College as a nontraditional student.

Carolyn is survived by her husband Ronald, daughters Margaret (Edward) Eastman of Minneapolis, Elizabeth (Andrew) Hatfield of Murdock, Debra Powell of AZ, and Vicki Krismer of CA, 4 grandchildren, and sister Elizabeth Tostenson of Willmar.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Nancy Tostenson.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Carolyn Gehrke, please visit our flower store.


I graduated with her daughter Debra in 1976 and we were best friends. She moved to California after graduation over 40 years ago.I remember going to their farm near Spicer several times several times. I also remember Carolyn raised Great Danes at that time.Condolences to her family.

Diane Carlson Oct 14 2021 12:00 AM

Liz, I am so sorry for the loss of your Mom. She cared a lot about you and was so proud of your academic success. You were one of my brightest students! I hope you are living a happy, productive life!

Donna Plotnik Oct 10 2021 12:00 AM

Over the many years that we knew each other, Carolyn was a wonderful friend who was caring, warm, and welcoming to people. I will miss her presence and being able to talk with her.

Cherie Opjorden Barnes Oct 9 2021 12:00 AM

Thank you so much for sharing this; I hadn't previously heard this story. It's so like Mom, and I'm so glad to know I'm at least somewhat following in her footsteps by encouraging the kids of friends and my nephews to learn about history, and mythology, and all kinds of things.

Margaret Eastman Oct 5 2021 12:00 AM

I met Carolyn in about 1963 when she lived at our house as a college student in Willmar. She was always so clever and intelligent. She gave me my love of books by buying me classic fairy tale books and taught my brother all about Greek Mythology. She went with my mom and us two kids to the Black Hills in 1964. It was an adventure and I've never forgotten it or her. My sympathies to Ron and all her girls. Lori (Benson) Linder

Lori Linder Oct 4 2021 12:00 AM

Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.The Peper family.

Kris Peper Oct 1 2021 12:00 AM

I never had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Gehrke, but her daughter Margaret is a gem in my life. Im holding you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Penny Visalli Sep 30 2021 12:00 AM

With loving memories of Carolyn Neal and I will never forget the fun we had whenever Carolyn and Eleanor were snowbound in town and stayed with our family.Sue Quernemoen and Neal Wallace

Sue Quernemoen and Neal Wallace Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM

With Deepest SympathiesBradley, Dana, Nicolas, Sue, Richard

Bradley, Dana, Nicolas, Sue, Richard Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM

Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead, and loving memories to forever hold in your heartsTheresa Gehrke

Theresa Gehrke Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM

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