In Loving Memory of
Gretchen Bruner Catterall died peacefully in her sleep, at the age of 81, on February 24, 2009. She was a world traveler, gifted singer, patient teacher, devoted mother, and lived her life in service to others.
Gretchen was born in Des Moines, Iowa, to Harold and Marie Bruner. She and her three sisters were taught early in life to love nature and outdoor adventures. The family spent an entire year traveling around the world in 1938, by steamboat, train, puddle jumper planes, camel and elephant, and visited many different cultures and countries. When they returned to the United States they settled in Claremont CA. She attended Pomona College and earned a degree in music, as a voice major, and shared her gift and love of music throughout her life.
Gretchen married Calvin Dennis Catterall, a graduate student in psychology, in 1950. They had three children in San Gabriel, CA and were loving parents, sharing adventures through scouting, church events, family camping and travel. The family traveled each summer, logging more than 100,000 miles on family trips around the US. They also visited Mexico, Japan and Europe. They moved to Sunnyvale, CA in 1960 and then moved to Columbus, OH in 1971. She taught in the school systems at all levels, often helping with special education and the most challenging students that needed extra tutoring. Gretchen and Cal were divorced in 1982; Calvin died in 1984 in France.
During her lifetime Gretchen enjoyed singing in her church choir, where she was often a soloist. She sang in the chorus of a San Jose Civic Light Opera production of My Fair Lady and other musical productions. She also participated in square dancing, musical appreciation groups, Girl Scouts, cake decorating, and sailing. She was a member of the PEO Sisterhood for over 60 years. She was active in the International Christian Youth Exchange and Youth for Understanding and hosted two exchange students, Roar from Norway in 1968 and Claes from Sweden in 1969. These two young men were each a part of the family for a year and became "adopted sons". She continued their very close relationship throughout her life. She also helped place many other foreign exchange students into other homes.
Gretchen moved to Concord, California in 1991 to be closer to her children in the bay area. She lived a full life there for many years, square dancing with the Concord Stompers, decorating her condo, communicating with friends around the world and enjoying new friendships. One highlight was a Windjammer Barefoot sailing cruise in the Caribbean. Failing health required a move to Sunrise Senior Living in Santa Rosa, CA. in 2005. Her health issues at first looked critical, but ultimately resolved when properly diagnosed, which gave her three extra years. The family would like to thank Sunrise for their compassionate care.
Gretchen Bruner Catterall goes home to the loving arms of her family, who have all preceded her in death, including her parents Harold Bruner and Marie Buxton Bruner, her sisters Betty Crowell, Marilyn Adkins, and Marguerite Miller. She is survived by her three children, Garth Catterall-Heart (Oregon) and his wife Dayadevi, Caren Catterall (Guerneville, CA) and her husband Greg, and Laura Mason (Columbus, OH). She had three grandchildren, Merlin, Cassidy, and Amanda, and one great grandchild, Korina.
A memorial service is planned for April, to celebrate her life, and send her ashes out to the Pacific Ocean. In lieu of flowers, please tell your family how much you love them, teach a child to read, or send a donation to Project Hope.
Love and Blessings, Laura, Caren & Garth
P.S. Although the exact date, time and place has not been determined for the West Coast memorial, we believe it will be held in the Bodega Bay area on April 18th or 19th. If you think you can come, please contact Garth at 503-560-1028 or Caren at 707-869-9528 for details OR revisit this website.
March 25 update:
The memorial for my Mom will be at the Bodega Bay Union Church, 1320 Bay View St. in Bodega Bay. The service will be at 3:00 on Saturday April 18th, followed by a reception at the church. Those who wish to help scatter her ashes can come along on a boat ride, which leaves at 5:30. We will take a short trip to Bodega Rock (20 min out, waters fairly protected and not too choppy, 1 hour total). Others may wish to watch from Doran Beach or Bodega head (short walk). We will probably eat dinner in Bodega or Sebastopol following the boat ride.
Hope you can come, we'd love to see you.
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