William 'Wil' Gehlert, lifelong radio career

March 19, 2014

William H. “Wil” Gehlert, 87, of Rehoboth Beach, peacefully passed away while listening to his favorite big band music and surrounded by his children Friday, March 14, 2014. He is deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.

Wil was born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 21, 1926, the son of Harry Gehlert and Magdalene Louise Katherine Haering Gehlert.

Wil was passionate about his lifelong career in radio broadcasting. He had his first encounter in broadcasting as a Boy Scout in 1938 on Philadelphia’s KYW with the Boy Scout Jamboree of the air. In 1943, after attending Olney High School, Wil traveled to California to work as a propeller mechanic and freelanced in radio in the evenings. In 1944, Wil began his naval service. He was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he built and operated the Armed Forces Radio Station WVTZ.

Upon his return to Philadelphia in 1947, he began his career in professional radio broadcasting. Later, he moved to the Wilmington market where he became well known for his “Wake up with Willie” morning show, first with WTUX and later at WAMS. In 1964, Wil moved to the only radio station in West Chester, Pa., WCHE, where he became the co-owner, general manager, salesman, engineer, copy writer, ad-libber and morning show host.

After his retirement from WCHE and broadcasting in 1986, Wil relocated to Rehoboth Beach, where he met, fell in love with, and married Barbara (Clendaniel) Eynon. He and Barbara enjoyed many cruises together, including the Panama Canal and most of the Caribbean. Wil spent his days sailing, boating, fishing, and involving himself in many social community activities including most recently the Harbour Lights CHEER Senior Center.

Wil was a proud father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, offering his love and support for his children and grandchildren in every way he could.

In addition to his parents, Wil was preceded in death by a brother, Richard Gehlert; his first wife Shirley Towers Gehlert; and his second wife, Barbara Gehlert.

Wil is survived by a son and three daughters: Christopher (Chip) William Gehlert of Downingtown, Pa., Vicki L. Gehlert of Port St Lucie, Fla., Wendy Gehlert Grills (Husband Doug) of Clifton, Va., Beth A. Matlack (Husband Chris) of Cumming, Ga.; seven grandchildren: Rachel Taylor (Husband Chris) of New York, N.Y., Tyler Grills of Clifton, Annie, Alison and Jack Matlack of Cumming, Catie and Ryan Gehlert of Downingtown, Pa.; and one great-grandchild Maisie Arden Winter Taylor of New York, N.Y. He is also survived by two stepdaughters: Dawn Bushey and Kimberly Somers of Rehoboth; three stepgrandchildren: Heather (Somers) Blizzard, James and Jeffrey Alwine; two stepgreat-grandchildren: Riley and Drake Worrall; and two brothers: George Robert Gehlert of Philadelphia and Harry Raymond Gehlert of Baltimore, Md.

A memorial service is being planned for the spring. Details will be announced. Arrangements by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Lewes.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Harbour Lights CHEER Senior Center, Lewes, DE 19958; contact: Dave Tidwell at 302-854-2888; or Delaware Hospice Center.