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Gary David Walke Sept. 1, 1943 - Sept 19, 2023

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Gary Walke, 80, of Sumner, died Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at Maple Crest Manor in Fayette.

Funeral services will be at 11:00 AM, Thursday, September 28, 2023, at the American Legion in Sumner with Rev. Tracy Hinkel officiating. Inurnment will be at a later date at Union Mound Cemetery in Sumner. Visitation will be held from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Wednesday, September 27th at Becker & Son Funeral Home in Sumner and for an hour preceding the funeral service at the American Legion on Thursday. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully asks that well-wishers consider sending memorials in Gary’s memory to the “Cindy Potratz Tribute Park”, c/o Judy Maifeld, 21912 160th St., Sumner, Iowa, 50674.

Gary David, son of DeLos Henry and Julia Annette (Nelson) Walke was born September 1, 1943, in Iowa City. He received his education in the Elkader school system graduating from high school in 1961. Gary continued his education at State College of Iowa in Cedar Falls, which became the University of Northern Iowa, receiving his degree in Education. On December 26, 1966, he was united in marriage with Carol Watters in Sanborn. Gary and Carol had two sons: Erik and Jason. Gary’s teaching career began in 1966 at Sumner High School and he would continue teaching in Sumner until retiring in 1999. After retirement from teaching, Gary made many trips around the country delivering LifeLine ambulances. He adored those journeys and was intensely proud to have helped in the effort to bring the Leicher family to Sumner with its growing manufacturing business. In addition to teaching, Gary owned and operated Sumner Recycling for almost 50 years. Gary began serving his community in municipal governance in 1969, serving on City Council until 1992. In 1992, he became Mayor and continued serving in that role until 2015. One of Gary’s passions was the Cindy Potratz Tribute Park and one of his dreams for that park was that it would have the financial resources to be maintained and expanded by future generations….that is why Gary would very much love for his friends to consider making gifts in his name to help ensure the ongoing vibrancy of the park. Gary was a lifelong history enthusiast and, as a young man, loved playing slow pitch softball all around northeast Iowa (a right handed 1st baseman with a sweet left-handed swing). He rooted heartily for the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Cubs and participated just as enthusiastically in many political campaigns beyond his own. He treasured fishing trips and reminiscences with boyhood friends from Elkader, personal contacts he made in the recycling business and the songs of Willy Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot and Johnny Cash. Local “characters” like Emory Creager and Herb Forsman found him ever an enthusiastic and supportive listener. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and with his friends both near and far. Most of all, he was proud and fond of his adopted hometown, Sumner, and the wonderful citizens too numerous to mention who make it such a special place. Gary’s love for Sumner, and the people who live there, was truly one of the defining pillars of his long and wonderful life.

Gary is survived by his sons, Erik (Rebecca) Walke of Madison and Jason (Michelle) Walke of West Des Moines; four grandchildren, Blake, Katerine (“Kaz”), Lewis and Bailey Julia; sister, Donna (Pat) McClain of Garnavillo; and brother-in-law, Jerry (Holly) Watters of Indianola.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Carol, and beloved dogs, Cinder and Sarge.

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