Faithful VW Let Go

February 24th, 2011

Phil Helmuth, executive director of development at EMU, accepts the keys and title to Margaret Martin Gehman's 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

At age 88, Margaret Martin Gehman ’42 of Harrisonburg has lost a little of her trademark drive, largely because she has parted company with a faithful friend.

Dr. Gehman and her trusty, albeit a bit rusty, mechanical steed, a blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, are almost synonymous to many observers. For years she motored the streets of the greater Harrisonburg area even though she preferred walking to as many destinations as possible. She has been a resident of Park Place at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community since 2005.

Gehman donated the true blue vehicle to the place where she served with distinction on the faculty for five decades. She taught art and physical education courses at EMU from 1944 until her retirement in 1987 but continued teaching a watercolor course until 1996. For much of that time, she carried – and exemplified – the moniker bestowed on her by a student years ago – “Speedy.”

“EMU has been good to me over the years, and this is another way I can express my appreciation,” said Gehman, a long-time donor to the university fund and capital projects supporter. She established the Margaret Martin Gehman Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid for physical education and art students.

Margaret recalled that she and her late husband, Ernest Gehman, paid around $1,500 for the VW, bought new in ’67 in Germany.

– Jim Bishop ’67