April 14, 1934 - October 31, 2021
Obituary for Dora Vernon Gerken
Dora Vernon Gerken, 87, died October 31, 2021 in Dallas, TX.
Dora was born April 14, 1934 in Boston, Massachusetts to Raymond and Leeler (Hales) Udall.
Raised in Arlington, Massachusetts, Dora graduated from MacMurray College for Women in
1956 with a BA in English. That same year, on August 11, she married George Gerken.
Dora had a deep love of learning and a passion for teaching. Though forced to stop teaching
middle school English while pregnant with her first child, she became in a sense a “professional
volunteer.” She continued to teach Sunday school and was instrumental in developing
preschools for underserved families. She dedicated herself to Amnesty International to
campaign for the humane treatment of political prisoners. She also worked tirelessly for the
League of Women Voters to promote social and environmental justice for all. Later in life, she
went back to school and started her own successful word processing business.
She loved the natural world and the environment, working with her husband to turn their 80-acre
property in Arkansas into a recognized tree farm. She also became a certified Master Gardener
and used that knowledge to cultivate a beautiful sustainable home garden and wildlife habitat.
Among her many hobbies, she was a gifted pianist, and her family loved listening to her play,
especially at holidays.
When her husband became ill, Dora was committed to caring for him at home, and once again
developed a new set of skills to take on this latest challenge. Dora will be remembered by her
family as a deeply caring, intellectually curious person passionate about making the world a
better place for her family and community. She was possibly the rare Bernie Sanders supporter
older than the man himself.
She is survived by her children and their spouses; Chris and Kay Gerken; Cindy and Erik
Schlanger; and her grandchildren; Karen, Tom, Steve, Jake and Lilah.
A memorial service will be held on December 4, 2021 at First Unitarian Church of Dallas.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund, the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Ozark Society Foundation.
World Wildlife Fund Donation
Ozark Society Foundation