Dr. Gerald R. Ihrke, 82, of Le Mars, Iowa passed away on Monday, December 23, 2019 at the Good Samaritan Society in Le Mars. A Memorial Prayer Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at the Mauer-Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars followed by visitation and fellowship with the family until 4:00. Rev. Chris Meier of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Le Mars will officiate. Burial will take place at a later date.
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Gerald Reuben Ihrke was born on December 29, 1936 in Bristol, South Dakota, the son of Reuben and Esther (Runge) Ihrke. He graduated from Webster High School in 1954. Gerry attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he was a standout basketball player and was elected to the North Central All-Conference team beginning as a sophomore. He was also active with baseball and track, pole vaulting, hurdles and sprints, and wrote the sports column for the college. It was at Augustana that he met Sandra Ann Gjovaag. She was a native of Sioux Falls.
Gerry and Sandy were united in marriage on June 21, 1958 at Eastside Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Upon graduation from Augustana, he taught math and coached in Walla Walla, Washington and Cincinnati, Ohio before enrolling in the optometric program at Pacific University of Oregon.
After receiving his Doctor of Optometry degree, Gerry and Sandy came to Le Mars, Iowa in 1965 to become a partner with Dr. C.L. Hagen at Le Mars Optometric Clinic. He practiced as an optometrist until retirement at the age of 62 in 1998.
Later in life, Gerry and Sandy found their passion with travels abroad. Among their favorite trips were to South Africa, Chili, Argentina, Mexico, England, Germany, Czech Republic, Netherlands and China. Gerry and Sandy were very active in the community for 40 years. Unfortunately, Sandy passed away at the age of 68 in 2007.
Gerry was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Le Mars where he served on the church board and sang in the choir. He was also a member of the Le Mars Lions Club. Gerry served as the president of the Iowa Optometric Association and served on the boards of Floyd Valley Hospital and Westmar College in Le Mars. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Gerry enjoyed playing tennis with his friends. He was also inducted into the Augustana Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
He will be lovingly remembered by his children and their spouses, Julie and Kevin Kennedy of Centennial, CO, Dr. Scott and Delana Ihrke of Le Mars, IA and Shelly and Dr. Alan Schultz of Johnston, IA; seven grandchildren, Jacob (Donielle) Kennedy, Carryn (Berett) Steffen, Lauren Kennedy, Elizabeth Ihrke, Alexander Schultz, Andrew Schultz and Andrea Schultz; a great-granddaughter, Luna Kennedy; a sister Betty (Harwood “Woody”) Hoeft of Walnut Creek, CA; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Sandy on January 29, 2007; a granddaughter, Victoria Kennedy; and a brother, Donald Ihrke.