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Wilma Jean Lerch


1934 - 2020
Wilma Jean Lerch Obituary
Wilma Jean Lerch, who spent the majority of her life in the Tidewater Region, began her life's journey in Hopewell, VA, where she was born on February 10, 1934. She died on January 3, 2020 surrounded by members of her family.

Jean was the daughter of George and Irene Delk. In 1952, she graduated from Warwick High School. Jean began her career at Newport News Shipbuilding, where she worked as a data processor. She was married on September 17, 1955 to her first husband, Richard "Dick" Schultz, who was a photographer for both The Daily Press and NASA. After she lost her husband in a car accident in 1963, Jean dedicated her life to raising her two surviving children, Lisa Michele Ross, and Richard Stuart Schultz, Jr. In addition, she is survived by two sons-in-law, Dale Allen Ross and Robert Wayne Jones Jr.; and two grandchildren, Dalton Allen Ross and Taylor Michele McCrae. Jean was expecting her first great grandchild in February 2020.

In 1971, Jean married her second husband, Robert G. "Percy" Lerch, who was a sailor in the Navy aboard the submarine Ethan Allen, and then the Naval Reserves from 1963 to 1982, and a Shift Test Engineer at Newport News Shipbuilding from 1972 until his retirement in 2000. After her second marriage, Jean re-entered the workforce and was employed at Montgomery Ward, where she worked in the administrative offices. Jean had many loves and passions. Above all were her family and friends. A close second was her love of Pelicans! Raising her family in the Newmarket area of Newport News, she was a source of support for many of the neighborhood kids, and the house on Roanoke Avenue became a regular meeting place for many of the local children. She was passionate about animals, and with her kids raised everything from turtles and rabbits, to ducks and dogs. Her "animal farm" also included the family horse, Homer Sparkle. Jean, along with her children, developed a passion for showing dogs. Raising both Irish and English Setters, Jean would travel up and down the East Coast with her children to participate in dog shows at numerous kennel clubs. She supported the development of her children in numerous ways, always encouraging them and their friends to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

Later in life, she developed a passion for "cruising." She and her husband, Percy, embarked on numerous cruises in their retirement years, both on their own and with family and friends. They enjoyed many Caribbean islands in their travels, with one of their favorite spots being Freeport, Bahamas. Jean also enjoyed many a slot machine, both on cruise ships and in travels to Atlantic City.

She also enjoyed numerous trips to Nags Head and other excursions with her favorite "trio," which included herself and cousins Tanis Mowery and Linda Wise. Together they enjoyed many an adventure over the years.

A celebration of Jean's life will be held on Saturday, January 18 at 3 p.m. at Berceuse Funeral and Cremation at 2609 Cunningham Drive, Hampton, VA 23666 (757)-825-8070. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to your favorite nonprofit dedicated to the protection of animals.
Published in Daily Press on Jan. 15, 2020
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