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Widow of Tigers legend Charlie Gehringer dies at 100

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Charlie Gehringer with his new bride, Josephine, in 1949.

Josephine Gehringer, the widow of Tigers Hall-of-Famer Charlie Gehringer who remained an avid fan of the team long after her husband's death in 1993, died Sunday.

She was 100.

Gehringer, a native of Calumet, Mich., lived in Beverly Hills, Mich., in her later years. She was a longtime parishoner of St. Regis Catholic Church in Bloomfield Hills and was a member of Bloomfield Hills Country Club, according to an obituary published by A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home in Troy.

According to the obituary, Gehringer also, "continued to closely follow the Tigers each and every season up until this day. Jo watched every game she could, kept track of the individual players, and enjoyed discussing the team’s successes and struggles. The Tigers always had a special place in her heart."

She called herself a fan of such Tigers as Brandon Inge, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, among others.

Charlie and Josephine Gehringer married when Charlie Gehringer was 46 and seven years removed from his 19-year major-league career — spent entirely with his native Tigers, for whom he played second base.

Gehringer said he married later in life because he cared for his mother, a diabetic. 

He once said, "I might've married sooner than I did but I couldn't see bringing a wife into that kind of situation."

Charlie, a Fowlerville native, and Josephine Gehringer married following his mother's death, in 1949 — five days after his Hall-of-Fame induction. Gehringer didn't want anything to distract from the wedding, so he skipped his induction.

Charlie Gehringer, top left, and Josephine Gehringer, bottom right, attend a Tigers game in this undated photo.

Shirley Povich, a legendary columnist for the Washington Post, criticized Gehringer for skipping the induction — Gehringer was the first living inductee not to attend his own ceremony — until he learned it was because he was getting married.

"He apologized," Josephine Gehringer said of Povich, Maury's father, in a 2014 interview with Hour Detroit magazine. "He thought he was getting a scoop and it backfired."

After missing his induction, Charlie and Josephine Gehringer would attend the ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., every year after that.

They also were regulars at every Tigers Opening Day, until Charlie's death. In 2001, Josephine Gehringer participated in the Tigers' 100th anniversary celebration.

According to the interview with Hour Detroit, Charlie and Josephine Gehringer met in 1948, when he would come to her office and ask her to attend a Tigers game. "After that, every date I had was always going to the ballgame." In six months, they were planning their wedding.

Early in their marriage, Charlie served as Tigers general manager for two years. He later was team vice president, before a long career selling car fabrics.

Charlie, whose No. 2 was retired by the Tigers in 1983 and who has a statue at Comerica Park, died in Bloomfield Hills in 1993. He was 89.

On her life with Charlie, Josephine said, "We were together for 44 years. We had a very happy life. ... Communication is what kept us together. He was easy to live with. He was very immaculate — I didn’t have to pick up after him. .... When he was at home he always shaved and he was dressed properly."

Family will receive friends Sunday from 1-6 p.m. at A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home, and a mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Regis Catholic Church.