Steen Funeral Homes
Beatrice Miller Gehringer, 89, passed away on Friday, April 26, 2013, at her home in Ashland.
Born in Ashland in 1923, Beatrice was the only child of immigrant Jewish parents, Hannah Raffel and Phillip Miller. Unlike most “only” children, Bea was asked, early in her life, to share her home with her mother’s orphaned young brothers, Bernard and Samuel Raffel.
Along with Bernie and Sam, she attended Ashland city schools, graduating from Ashland High School in 1941 and moving on to the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1944 with a degree in sociology (though she said she would have preferred to have had a social work degree, if that had been an option). Jane Addams, social worker and founder of Hull House, was a powerful early influence on Bea who, at age seven, checked out of the Ashland Public Library a biography of the 1931 Nobel Prize-winning activist. This book, she said, set the course of her life.
Bea was happiest in service to others. She was a devoted member of the congregation Agudath Achim in Ashland, where the Rabbi said, she “put in many hours of ‘overtime’ in her desire to make Judaism live in Ashland.” In recent years, she was also a member of the Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntington, W.Va.
While her husband Bill served in the U.S. Navy, Bea worked for a short time as a real-life “Rosie the Riveter” in a Chicago factory. After the war, she returned with her husband and children to Ashland to operate Miller’s Toggery, her father’s men’s clothing store, located on 16th Street in Ashland. She worked there for several years before helping to close the business and moving on to her true calling as a social worker. Bea’s long career in social services in the Kentucky Department for Social Insurance spanned nearly 30 years.
In the spirit of Jane Addams, who wrote that “nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world,” after her retirement, Bea created CAReS, a small social services agency designed to help people who “fall through the cracks” in the system.
Beatrice Gehringer is preceded in death by her spouse of 47 years; her parents; her beloved aunt, Lillian Kleinberg; and her uncles, Bernard and Samuel.
She is survived by three loving children, Elliott Gehringer of Ashland, Lynn Mullins (and spouse John Mullins) of Ashland and William Gehringer (and spouse Martha Gehringer) of Lexington; three grandchildren, Gregg Gehringer (and spouse Monica Leyva) of Tucson, Ariz., Ashley Lai (and spouse Anthony) of Covington and Hannah Scheper (and spouse Andrew) of Cincinnati, Ohio; a very special caretaker, Brenda Hall; and a large caring extended family.
The funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at Steen Funeral Home-Central Avenue Chapel in Ashland with Rabbi David Wucher and the Reverend Stewart Schneider officiating. Burial will follow in Ashland Cemetery.
Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in Bea’s name to CAReS, 2516 Carter Avenue, Ashland , KY, or to a charity of your choice.
Condolences may be left for the family at steenfuneralhome.com.