Margaret “Marge” Mary Lehrke, 88, peacefully passed away at Grand Arbor Memory Care in Alexandria, Minnesota, on November 19, 2023.
Margaret was born October 5, 1935, in Bowlus, Minnesota, to Joseph and Helen (Eggert) Prokott. She grew up on her family’s farm with older brother Robert, older sisters Dolores, Dorothy, and Rita and younger sister Jeanette. In 1955, she was united in marriage to Gordon William Lehrke, whom she was married to for 55 years. Together, they raised five children, Greg, Karen, Jeff, Bruce, and Paula.
After giving birth to her first son near the Fort Hood military base in Temple, Texas, the family eventually settled into a home in Woodbury, Minnesota, until 1970, and then in North Saint Paul until 1977. From 1977 to 1979, Marge and her husband ventured into the hospitality realm as proud owners of Shing Wako Resort on Lake Edward in Merrifield, Minnesota.
Ahead of her time, Marge entered the workforce during an era when women were less commonly seen in employment roles. Her professional journey started at St. Paul Companies in the 1960s, Montgomery Wards in 1970s as a bookkeeper, and culminated with a 26-year tenure at Burlington Northern Railroad where she contributed to the company as both a dedicated laborer and a meticulous data clerk.
A woman of determination and resilience, she balanced her career, home, and an array of hobbies and passions. From crocheting dolls and beautiful afghans, to sewing holiday decor, children’s clothing, drapery, and so much more, she always showcased her creativity in everything she made. Marge had an eye for detail in the home, painting and wallpapering, redecorating for new trends, and refinishing old furniture. Outside she created natural sanctuaries with her landscaping skills, designing lavish flower and rock gardens, often doing all the work herself. She did not shy away from these manual tasks that added unique flair to her homes throughout the years; she had pride in keeping them tidy, clean, and welcoming. She also collected many lighthouse figurines which were displayed prominently in all of her homes.
Of the many different houses Marge and Gordy lived in after their children were grown, Marge always made each one a home for her children and grandchildren to return to. From Maplewood to Randall to Perch Lake and other homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area on Shamrock Lane and Holly Road, a new place always brought Marge a new adventure and new ideas to be realized.
Marge was known by her family and friends for her extraordinary social spirit, earning a reputation as the quintessential hostess. She held large family gatherings at holidays and other special occasions, filled with food and famous desserts like poppyseed coffee cake, apple bars, Christmas cookies, and her tasty chicken salad. She taught herself how to decorate cakes, making many birthday cakes for her grandchildren throughout the years. No party was complete without some dancing––Marge loved to visit dance halls as a young teenager. Family gatherings often included her late husband Gordy playing concertina with Marge dancing the waltz and polka with anyone in reach to be her partner.
Marge and Gordy made yearly cross-country road trips to see family and visit National Parks. They visited 49 states, including Alaska where they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
While living in Brainerd after retirement, she enjoyed playing on a local bowling league, going to lunch with friends and family, and always brewed a pot of coffee if anyone stopped by. Her competitive streak shone through in friendly games of Scrabble and card games, particularly 500. She loved attending all of her grandchildren’s events from baseball games and sports tournaments to plays, concerts, and dance recitals. Proudly embracing the roles of grandparent, great-grandparent, and even great-great-grandparent, she cherished the joy that all family brought to her life. Many nieces and nephews say she was one of their “favorite” aunts, as she was silly, witty, and brought laughter wherever she went.
Though shy as a young child, Marge is remembered by loved ones as feisty, ambitious, and sassy––full of energy and zest! She was also compassionate, kind-hearted, easy to talk to, and many friends and family would ask her for advice.
She was a longtime member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Brainerd since 1978. Marge will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Margaret is survived by her sisters Dolores Madden and Dorothy Corser; her five children, Greg (Pauline) Lehrke, Karen (Geoff) Gihle, Jeff Lehrke, Bruce (Bev) Lehrke, and Paula Stone; her grandchildren, Jeremy (Kat) Lehrke, Shane (Lusi) Gihle, Jason (Clay) Gihle, Joshua (Danielle) Gihle, Charles Cooley, Sara (Spencer) Starnes and Anna Gardner; Jerry Martin, Mike (Nikki) Martin, Sheila (Christopher) Rude, Steven Koshenina and LeeAnn Haverland. She is preceded in death by her husband Gordon Lehrke, sister Jeanette Webb, brother Robert (Bob) Prokott, and sister Rita Baron.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Brenny Funeral Chapel, 7348 Excelsior Rd North in Baxter, Minnesota. Her life will be celebrated on Friday, December 8, 2023 with a visitation at 11 am and mass at 12 p.m. A luncheon will be served after mass and the interment will be at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls at 3:00 pm. All are invited to follow the funeral procession starting at 2:30 pm from Brenny’s Funeral Chapel in Baxter, where Margaret will be laid to rest with her late husband, Gordon.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made online at: https://www.knutenelson.org/