Alice Gjerde, a retired Baltimore County elementary school teacher who assisted her sons in opening their first restaurant, died of an infection Oct. 18 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Cockeysville resident was 71.
Born Alice Silletto in Des Moines, Iowa, she earned an education degree from the University of Iowa and moved to Baltimore in 1968 from Iowa City when her husband, David Gjerde, was named personnel director at the old Locust Point Procter & Gamble plant.
Mrs. Gjerde joined the Baltimore County school system and taught at Warren Elementary School and Fort Garrison Elementary School, where she retired.
In 1991, she and her husband helped to financially back a new Cathedral Street restaurant, Spike & Charlie's, named for her two sons, who owned and operated it.
"When the restaurant opened, she kept us on the straight and narrow and was able to connect with our guests," said her son, Spike Gjerde, who lives in Baltimore and now owns Woodberry Kitchen. "She related to people well and worked tirelessly to get them to the seats at the nearby Meyerhoff Hall."
Mrs. Gjerde became the restaurant's host and also handled phone reservations.
"She hustled the menus and seated people and developed friendships with our guests," said her son, Charlie Gjerde, who lives in Towson and now owns Alexander's Tavern in Fells Point. "As time went on, we had people coming to us who had been her students. They were often surprised to see her working in the restaurant."
Her sons described their mother as a "huge Ravens fan" who was a season ticket holder. She and her husband tailgated and brought their own grill to games. She also enjoyed solving crossword puzzles and traveled.
A life celebration will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at 8 Clipping Tree Lane, Cockeysville.
In addition to her sons, survivors include her husband of 50 years; a brother, David Silletto of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and four grandchildren.