April 25, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In this edition of 60PLUS in Omaha Magazine, we continue the issue’s adventure theme.

For those who don’t know, I was married to Mr. Adventure—Raymond Lemke. He sometimes lived on the edge. Or he just flew over it.

In fact, he flew a paraplane (which looks sort of like a riding lawnmower with a parachute sail) out of the old South Omaha Airport. Raymond and some friends owned a single-engine airplane. He later built his own airplane, which he started in the finished basement of our home. Before it became too big, he had to move it to the detached two-car garage and eventually the driveway.

Once, in the ’70s, the two of us were flying in his single-engine plane to a meeting when we encountered a lightning storm. The bad weather forced our landing in a Kansas cornfield. The farmer told us we could leave the plane there and recommended a boardinghouse in town (there were no hotels). He gave us a ride to town and we spent the night. The next morning, we got a ride to the plane and flew onward.

And, of course, there were plenty of road trips. He and his closest male friends would fly their plane or drive on these excursions. All of them were type-A personalities, and I can imagine the butting of heads. I did hear one story of one of the friends driving too slow: Everyone in the car was complaining, so he stopped, got out of the car, and gave the keys to someone else.

Every summer, Raymond took our sons on an adventure “guys-only” trip. Their stories are now legendary in the family.

He once took the three oldest boys, ranging in age from 10 to 13 years old (our fourth was a toddler), to the Canadian wilderness on a backwoods canoe trip in 1970. In my memory, the boys’ backpacks were bigger than they were. Yet they were portaging their own canoe and camping far from civilization. The youngest of these Lemke explorers was in charge of defending supplies from bears when the others were transporting the canoe—and a bear appeared.

Needless to say, being the mother for such a rambunctious bunch was an adventure in itself.


This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Gwen Lemke, Contributing Editor for 60Plus In Omaha