Dolores Gehrs of Solvang, California passed peacefully into eternal rest from her fully decorated room at Atterdag Village where she had lived in skilled nursing for the past three years and independent living for two years before that. She was much loved by the staff there, and she truly appreciated and was so fond of her caregivers. She lived very close to Bethania Lutheran Church, another hub of her life, and to her son Daniel Gehrs and his wife Robin. Christmas was her very favorite holiday, so it was not a surprise that she chose to ascend at this time.
Dolores was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Lulu and Ralph Koffler. Her father was from Vienna, Austria. She grew up in a wonderful, warm extended family during the Depression in her grandparents' house in Milwaukee. She graduated from high school there and met and married Jim Gehrs. They were married on Christmas Day in 1948 when Jim was able to come home on leave from the US Navy. They lived in a small apartment in Bayonne, New Jersey where they could see the Statue of Liberty from their window. After Jim got out of the Navy they moved back to Milwaukee and started their family, having four children in just under five years. They lived in an apartment for a period of time and then moved into a sturdy red brick home that Jim built in the Milwaukee suburb of Hales Corners. Dolores was the consummate homemaker who loved to decorate, cook, and sew, and their family was the focal point for both she and Jim. The family had a one-wheel tent trailer during this time and enjoyed many camping trips with it including a trip to the Black Hills and Yellowstone in 1957.
Jim worked for Johnson Service Company (later Johnson Controls) in heating and air conditioning construction and wanted to move to a warmer climate, so the family moved in 1960 to the Los Angeles area (San Fernando Valley) where they had relatives. In 1964 they moved to Simi Valley. Dolores worked for Capitol Records for several years and then in the cafeteria of a local elementary school for 7 additional years, but she always saw being a homemaker as her primary job. The family was very active in Our Savior Lutheran Church in Simi. Dolores and Jim joined a square dance club during this time. The tent trailer was replaced by a larger travel trailer and used often by the family.
In 1980 Jim was working for Honeywell during the construction of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and on the launch pads for the space shuttle program at Vandenberg Air Force Base, so they moved to Solvang to be closer to his work. Jim retired and they moved to Santa Maria, then Modesto, and finally back to Solvang in 1995. RV-ing continued to be a big focus for Dolores and Jim with many memorable trips including time at Pismo Beach which all of the family enjoyed.
Dolores was active in Bethania Lutheran Church both as a member and a volunteer. She belonged to Bethania Guild as well as the womens' quilting group. She and Jim assisted in the community by delivering Meals on Wheels. Dolores loved fashion, beauty, and holidays. Dolores was truly an eternal optimist, always kind and caring and sweet, and so devoted to her faith in God and to her family. She will be missed by a large circle of relatives and friends.
Dolores is predeceased by her husband James Gehrs and her grandson Matthew Hanson. She is survived by her sons Daniel (Robin) of Solvang, James II of Santa Rosa, Jeffrey of Wildomar, CA and daughter Diane (Tom) of San Bernardino. She has five grandchildren Jennifer Gehrs Vidmar, Jeremy Gehrs, Jamie Gehrs Fowler, Cambria Gehrs, and Sofia Gehrs. She has five great-grandchildren Graysen, Finn, Colton, Fiona, and Coralin all of whom were just here at Thanksgiving to see her which brought her such joy.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Julia Billington of Sansum and Chris Parker and all the staff at Atterdag Village for the exceptional care Dolores received.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 16 at 11 AM at Bethania Lutheran Church, 603 Atterdag Road, Solvang, with a luncheon following. In lieu of flowers Dolores requested donations to Atterdag Village Employees Christmas Fund, 636 Atterdag, Solvang, CA 93463.