Joanne E. Gehringer

By on September 21, 2009

Joanne E. Gehringer, 72, of Leland, Ill., formerly of Kaneville, passed away at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, DeKalb, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009.

She was born Dec. 11, 1936, the daughter of Alfred and Norma (Hanson) Maier in Aurora.

Joanne grew up on the family farm on Tanner Road in Sugar Grove, attending local schools. She graduated from Elburn High School in 1954 and worked for the next 26 years as a buyer and manager of the stationery and bath department for the Little Traveler in Geneva.

The title of “buyer and manager” would become a staple for Joanne as she worked in that capacity for the gift shop at Fisherman’s Inn, as well as the Grimm’s Hallmark Shop in St. Charles. After becoming a sales representative for a time, she returned to her Hallmark roots by working for Nicole’s Hallmark at the West Aurora Shopping Plaza.

It was shortly before Elburn Days in 1965 that Joanne would meet the man that would walk beside her the rest of her days, Jim Gehringer. After a six-month whirlwind courtship, they were united in marriage on her birthday, Dec. 11, 1965.

They began their life together in a tenant house on the old Gehrke Farm on Lees Road in Virgil Township. Five years later, they moved to Lorang Road in Kaneville. In 2005, they moved once more to Leland. For the length of their marriage, she was a member of a neighborhood club of ladies from the Lee’s Road area.

Joanne was a member of the Kaneville United Methodist Church, and for many years was active in the women’s group and worked at its fall beef dinner.

Joanne was an entertainer at heart, and her home was always open to family and friends. It wasn’t a holiday without spending time with Jim and Joanne, eating home-cooked meals and fresh-baked desserts. Her home was filled with decorations for every season and every holiday, especially Christmas. Her collection of Christmas ornaments was large enough to decorate seven trees each December.

She also collected antique dishes and anything that pictured cats of all kinds and sizes. No matter the season, you could be sure that the house would be spotless, no matter where you looked.

Outside of the home, Jim and Joanne ruled the road on their Goldwing motorcycle. Cruising along the highway, their destination could be anywhere between Canada and Florida. She also loved to accompany Jim to the steam and power shows as long as she could walk among, the arts and crafts and shop until her heart’s content.

When they finally made it home, Rosey and Emily, her two favorite cats, welcomed them home. Once a month she met with her neighborhood club to play Uno, gossip and share desserts, but not necessarily in that order.

It was when she was living on Lees Road that Joanne opened her heart and home by rescuing a stray cat. This trend continued over the years as at least one cat, and sometimes up to five, called Lees Road home as evidenced by a little plaque on her wall that read, “You are never fully dressed without a little cat hair.”

Although rescuing stray cats became commonplace, she also rescued “stray” people who were lonely and in need of a friend and a home-cooked meal. Joanne’s open arms, loving heart and giving soul will be missed greatly by family, friends and the occasional feline in need of her care.

She now leaves her loving and devoted husband, Jim; one sister, Sharon (Ken) Needham-De Arvil of Oregon, Ill.; many cousins, nieces and nephews and a family of close friends.

She now joins her parents and one brother-in-law, George Needham, who preceded her in death.

Visitation was Thursday, Sept. 17, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A funeral to celebrate her life was Friday, Sept. 18, at Conley Funeral Home. Rev. Jason Turner, pastor of the Kaneville United Methodist Church, officiated, and interment followed at Jericho Cemetery, Sugar Grove.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Joanne Gehringer Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at