Obituary: Gertrude Walter Lerch “Bobby”


Gertrude Walter Lerch “Bobby”, 104, passed away peacefully on April 12, 2014. at her home in Chevy Chase Md. She was born in San Francisco to Albert and Mina Walter in 1910.

Her family moved to Cokeville Wy., in 1913, where her father managed a phosphate mine. They witnessed covered wagons moving west on the Oregon Trail, and bank robbers (the 'Green River Gang') stealing their horses. The family moved to Ardsley, NY in 1916, where Bobby became the valedictorian of Ardsley High. She graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass. in 1931, from which she also received a Masters Degree (1933) and taught chemistry.


She married Henry F. Lerch III of D.C. in 1936 and thereafter resided in Chevy Chase until her death.

She was actively involved with Henry Lerch and Wilton Wallace in the founding of the law firm of Wallace & Lerch (now Lerch, Early Brewer, Chtd.) in 1950, and has been associated with it in many capacities for 64 years.

Mrs. Lerch was the leader of many regional organizations. She served as President of the former DC Girl Scout Council and as the first President of the combined five councils which became known as the Girl Scout Council of the National Capital. She was President in 1963 when scout summer camps were integrated. In January 2014 she received the first 90 year pin ever awarded in history by the girl scouts.
Bobby was the first female President of the United Way of the National Capital Area. She twice visited the White House to receive Ronald Regan’s contributions in person. She served as a Board Member and Allocations Committee Chair of the United Way for many years, and was a Board Member and Chair of the Montgomery County Health Welfare Council.

She was very active with Mount Holyoke College, and was President of the Washington Alumnae Club. She led her 75th college reunion parade in 2006, and she was the last surviving member of her class. She served St. Paul’s Lutheran Church as President of its Church Council, Trustee, Sunday School Superintendent, Archivist, and in countless other positions, including the Muhlenberg memorial committee. She was also the President of the Lutheran Church Women of the Maryland Synod. She and her family also hosted many diplomats in cooperation with the State Department. Her guests included Lady Baden Powell, the world founder of the Girl Scouts, and many others.

From the ‘50s thru the ’70s she and her family summered at their cabin at Scientists’ Cliffs on the 1726352.1 08102.001
Chesapeake Bay. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, she wintered in Biscayne Park, Fl. She snorkeled and petted a shark on her 90th birthday. She enjoyed travel, flying, genealogy, reading, and needlepoint.

She was predeceased in 1986 by her devoted husband Henry, and is survived by three loving sons and their wives: Harry and Sharon Lerch of Palm City, Fl., dahinda meda (formerly Al Lerch) and Norma Grier of Eugene, Or., and John and Harriet Lerch of Salisbury, Md. She is also survived by 8 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 4900 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., D.C. on Sunday, May 4, at 1:30pm. In lieu of flowers the family suggests that contributions may be made to St. Paul’s Church, or to the Girl Scouts, 4301 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, 20008, or to a charity of your choice.


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