Col. Dr. Helen J. Gurkow

February 15, 1926 - May 24, 2023


Obituary For Col. Dr. Helen J. Gurkow

Verona –

Col. Dr. Helen J. Gurkow, 97, died Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at the VA Hospital in Madison, WI.

Col. Dr. Helen J. Gurkow was born in Lancaster, WI, the daughter of Carl and Theresa Gurkow. Her parents ran Gurkow Produce/Implement for many years in Lancaster, WI. Following Col. Dr. Gurkow’s graduation from Lancaster High School, she attended the University of Illinois receiving a Bachelor’s Degree. At the University of Wisconsin, she obtained a Master’s Degree and PhD in Anatomy/Physiology. During that time, she taught in the Anatomy Department of the University of WI Medical School. She obtained a MD degree from Marquette Medical School (now the Medical College of Wisconsin). After an internship and year in surgical residency at Madison General Hospital (now Meriter), she went into solo general practice in Platteville, WI until 1986. In 1979 she joined the Wisconsin National Guard 13th Evac Hospital unit; in 1982 she became a Flight Surgeon and served with the 147 AVN Unit until 1990, when she was activated for Desert Storm and served four months with the hospital unit in Saudi Arabia. In 1992 she transferred to the Ohio National Guard where she was Ohio State Surgeon, Army National Guard until retirement in 1994. Col Dr. Gurkow traveled extensively throughout her entire life and became an avid photographer and in later years an environmental advocate (tree hugger). After retiring from Medicine in 1988 she became a professional nature photographer.

Col. Dr. Gurkow was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by a cousin, Wendy and many dear friends especially, Mary Rose Dye Kieler, who was a borrowed daughter from a wonderful family – Jaime and Lola Dye. We ran a top notched medical practice, and I could not have done it without her, she has a son, Eddie whom I delivered.

A special thank you to Bonnie Eustice for all her help and Ben Eustice my computer I.T. Man, also Jim Koener a borrowed son, Vietnam Vet, Cobra and Huey Helicopter Pilot. Also, Bud Leuth, Julie John Gallagher, Janann Clark, Katie Juisto, Fred and Glenda Dye, Connie and Roger Wiederholt, and Beth and Chip Rowedder for all the lunches, phone calls, perms and boat rides. God blessed me with the Jaime and Lola Dye family. Life is sweet, and I have done it all, and it was wonderful – live every day like your last, and one day you will be right.

In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Nature Conservancy, Madison Audubon Society or your favorite charity.

There will be a private burial date at a later time at Southern Wisconsin Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove, WI.

Col. DR you will truly be missed and know that you were loved.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

Verona Chapel

220 Enterprise Drive


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  • June 26, 2023

    I wanted to extend my sympathy to Dr. Gurkow's adopted family. This great woman saved my life in 1977. I was exposed to silo gas and miss diagnosed by another doctor. Had she not seen my x-rays and called immediately my lungs would have filled with fluid. I owe my life to her. Dan Steinback

  • June 12, 2023

    I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Helen at Noel Manor. A truly remarkable woman with such a good sense of humor and wonderful stories to tell. Her life of service and wonderful Doctor that she was is truly an inspiration. She will be greatly missed by us all. My deepest sympathies to Mary Rose and family. Michelle Zinck

  • June 11, 2023

    Dr. Gerkow was a great personal physician, and promised to be there to deliver our daughter in 1983. She was a friend who shared photography and role model to others to enjoy life. We will miss her. Linda and family

  • June 11, 2023

    We were so fortunate to have the wonderful Dr. Gurkow deliver all three of our sons during the 1970s and care for our family throughout those years. She touched our lives in so many ways - always with good humor and positive guidance. We stayed in touch throughout the years and will always smile when we think of our dear friend, Helen.....and Mary Rose. Gene & Jan Weber.

  • June 08, 2023

    Will miss Dr Gurkow, what a fabulous lady, my deepest sympathy Mary Rose & family, she was the best, loved her sense of humor & so glad she helped deliver my Danielle Rae Bartels, hugs!!

  • June 08, 2023

    Mary Rose and family My thoughts are with you. Dr Gurkow and you were both very special to my sister Edna. Dr. was a great lady and will be missed.

  • June 08, 2023

    Your humor and insight into the world will be missed. I was blessed to serve with Helen in the 147th. I meet her my first day in the military when I was blessed to have her swear me in to the National Guard. I didn't realize at the time how lucky I was.

  • June 08, 2023

    I as fortunate to have been able to care for her while inpatient on several occasions. She was a positive person and a true joy to be around. The world was much improved by her being in it.

  • June 07, 2023

    Mary Rose - I am sorry for your loss. I remember Dr Gurkow, initially from WIPRO. Pat McCutchin.

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