Dolores H. (Pettis) Gehm

Dolores H Pettis Gehm

MADISON – Dolores was an independent and caring mother, grandmother, wife, friend and more.

She was born on May 21, 1929 and died on October 22, 2021, at age 92.

From a young age, Dolores developed a love of art, animals, and the outdoors. She enjoyed spending time with her cousins out West. She grew up in Chicago, and later attended Washington High School in Milwaukee, where she met her future husband, Gerald “Jerry” Gehm, before moving to Madison to finish high school. They were married on October 18, 1948 and had 3 children: Jill, Susan and Randy. She became an avid fisherwoman, enjoying many fishing trips to Canada through the years. She loved spending summers “Up North” in the Nicolet National Forest with her family: fishing and swimming in Rose Lake until her late 80s.

Dolores loved her family and always kept a playful sense of creativity. She deeply connected with kids, especially her grandkids: inventing her own stories, organizing tea parties and “airplane” rides in the living room and creating scavenger hunts. When Dolores was in her 50s, she learned to drive on the highway, to visit her granddaughters who lived outside Madison. This helped her discover a new sense of freedom and independence and she went on to have many grand adventures. Dolores loved to visit Arizona and Las Vegas and had fun gambling with her children, Jill and Randy. She was a life-long learner, taking painting lessons, jewelry making, matting and framing and more.

Dolores had a deep love of animals, especially dogs. She got her last lab puppy, Lily, at age 86. She was happiest when surrounded by family and dogs, with a cup of coffee and a prank up her sleeve. She made the holiday season magical, gathering the family to bake dozens of homemade Christmas cookies and enjoying shopping trips, gift-giving and hosting everyone on Christmas Day.

Dolores loved the theatre and enjoyed her years working with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. She also loved to watch her grandchildren perform in The Nutcracker, many piano, dance recitals and musicals.

Dolores lived in her home in Madison, WI for over 60 years. She leaves behind her daughter, Susan (Gary) Hoerchner; son, Randy; granddaughters Alissa (Tim) Burnett; Melanie (Theran) Bauer; Samantha (Samuel) Michalski; and great grandchildren: Emaline, Sawyer, Flynn, Alistair (Burnett); Camron, Carson, Cullen (Michalski); Harrison and Cosima (Bauer).

Dolores was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Gehm, and her daughter, Jill Wilson. She will be remembered for her fierce love of family and animals, her creativity and love of the outdoors.

A private celebration of Dolores’ life will be scheduled for a future date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor can be made to the Dane County Humane Society.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

2418 N. Sherman Avenue