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Wilma Marie (Miller) Gerleman

April 9, 1930 ~ August 14, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old


A Celebration of the Virtuous Life of Wilma Marie (Miller) Gerleman

Wilma was born on April 9, 1930 to William P. Miller and Katherine M. (Haag) Miller as the second to the youngest of 13 children on a farm in Lyon County, Kansas. She passed away peacefully in her sleep after saying her nightly prayers on August 14, 2023. Wilma is so beloved, as many were drawn to her smile, sincerity and fast pace.

Wilma grew up gardening and raising chickens to help feed her family during the Great Depression and World War II. She disliked chickens to this day, but loved her pony, Diamond. When going to school, Wilma rode on her big brother's shoulders and carried hot boiled eggs in her hands to keep them warm during the snowy winter.

After being crowned “May Queen,” Wilma married her high school sweetheart, Charles Richard (Dick) Gerleman, in Olpe, Kansas on June 24, 1950. Together, they shared 63 beautiful years of love, marriage, dancing and happiness. Wilma was at his side when he went to be with our Lord on April 25, 2013.

In the early 1950s, Wilma and Dick moved to Belleville, Kansas, where Dick worked with Metropolitan
Life Insurance and Wilma was a stay-at-home mother who raised their four children, Bruce W. and Dr.
Brent F. Gerleman (Angie) of Des Moines, Iowa, and Brenda M. Gerleman and Barbara K. Autry of
Wichita. In 1961, Dick was promoted to agency manager and the family moved to Salina, where Wilma
enjoyed the many amenities of big city life; dancing, fashion, friends and family filled Wilma’s days.

Her Catholic faith was always paramount in her life. Wilma became very involved with Saint Mary’s Church and Elementary School and Sacred Heart High School. She and Dick made regular trips to Olpe to help their parents. As her children grew older, Wilma began a career at Salina Sears in the women’s fashion department. Her class and gift for detail and design on a budget quickly caught the eye of customers and colleagues. Over the next 30 years, she enjoyed nurturing and guiding women and girls; she was respected and remembered for years after she retired.

Wilma was an accomplished artist across many mediums. She was best known for the various stages of her beautiful oil paintings, ranging from wildlife, flowers, sceneries, still-life, abstract and more. She took great pride in her home, cultivating cleanliness and green thumbs across her family. She was a deeply committed matriarch, who loved being serenaded by her children and grandchildren and never napped.

Wilma and Dick cherished Catholic education and all four of their children were educated in Catholic schools. Following high school, all four children attended Wichita State University, where Bruce played football, Brenda and Barbie were Shockettes and Brent graduated from WSU/KU medical school with honors. Her pride in their successes and in the success of the Knights and Shockers was never-ending, as they traveled all over the country to support the schools and their children. At WSU, she was lovingly referred to as “Team Mom.” Her beauty and sweet words of encouragement inspired many Shockers to greatness and she was honored with a stone on the WSU Plaza of Heroines.

Throughout their marriage, Wilma and Dick traveled our country and the world. They saved up to take their children on frequent vacations. Later in life, Wilma enjoyed her fall trips to New England, visits to Seattle to see her sisters Geneva and Kathryn, time in the deserts of Arizona with Jim and Joyce Hill, adventures in Carmel with the Gerlemans, and many trips to Florida where the Fontainebleau was her favorite dancing place. Their highlights together included Hawaii, Alaska and over a dozen countries across Europe. She prayed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Francis’s Basilica in Assisi with her four children, visited Dick’s forefathers in the namesake of her hometown, Olpe, Germany, and explored her ancestors’ country in Alsace Lorraine.

Wilma never forgot her hometown of Olpe, Kansas. With Dick, she gave generous gifts to establish the original endowment for St. Joseph’s Catholic School and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery. Wilma will be buried in that cemetery on Friday August 25th at 4:00. In lieu of flowers, please consider gifts to those endowments.

Wilma is survived by her four children, six grandchildren who knew her as “Nanie” (Grant, Gretchen, Anna, Jeb, McKenzie and Max) and three great grandchildren (Graham, Drake and Meyer). Wilma was preceded in death by her parents, brothers (Bert, Christian, Leonard, Francis and Bill), sisters (Clara, Louise, Bernadine, Helen, Eileen, Geneva and Kathryn) and granddaughter Margo.

All friends of the family are invited to share with us in a celebration of Wilma’s incredible life well lived.

Thursday, August 24th from 5:00-7:00 pm
Ryan Mortuary in Salina, KS
All are invited to pray the Catholic Rosary with the family at 6:30 pm.

Funeral Mass:
Friday, August 25th at 10 am (with lunch to follow)
St. Mary Queen of the Universe Catholic Church in Salina, KS

Rosary and Burial:
Friday, August 25th at 3:30 pm (with dinner and reception to follow at the famous Olpe Chicken House)
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Olpe, Kansas




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August 24, 2023

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Ryan Mortuary
137 N 8th St
Salina, KS 67401

Funeral Mass
August 25, 2023

10:00 AM
St. Mary Queen of the Universe Catholic Church
230 E Cloud St
Salina, KS 67401

August 25, 2023

3:30 PM
St. Joseph Catholic Church
306 Iowa St
Olpe, KS 66865

August 25, 2023

St. Joseph Cemetery
1145 Rd 75
Olpe, KS 66865


St. Joseph's Catholic School
307 Iowa St, Olpe KS 66865

St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery


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