Gretchen Wilterding Maring died Dec. 30, 2018, at Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay after suffering a stroke several days earlier.
For Gretchen, every day was a new opportunity to learn, share, and create. She lived each day with intention and purpose—whether the purpose was to prepare for one of her book groups, volunteer with the Peninsula Music Festival or Björklunden, or test yet another soup recipe she’d spotted in The New York Times. She might reorganize the 15 binders of family history she’d compiled or finish a sweater she was knitting for a friend. She might spend the morning watching her bird feeder, bird book in hand. She was known to answer calls for emergency knitting assistance—like the time she recently helped a friend finish a pair of socks for a niece’s birthday.
Gretchen and her twin brother, John, were born on October 21, 1930, to John and Florence Wilterding in Neenah, Wisconsin. She spent her childhood in Menasha—along with John, her sister, Nancy, and younger brother Mark—where adventures included camping in her beloved Door County. She loved music and played several instruments including piano; she even had a stint with a jazz band called Sharps and Flats.
Gretchen studied history at Lawrence College and in 1950 married Jacob “Cap” Louis Pawer, Jr., a Navy fighter pilot. She gave birth to Jacob III (“Jake”) in 1953. When Cap was killed in the Korean War, Gretchen returned to Menasha. She married John Vogel Maring in 1955 and raised children Jake, Nancy, John Jr., and Charles in Neenah. Her children were inspired not only by her talents, but by the way she treated everyone she met with equal kindness and respect. She and John retired to Door County, where she proceeded to befriend basically everyone.
Gretchen recently made us swear we would never “bore people” with a list of her accomplishments. Suffice it to say, she won multiple awards for volunteerism and served on many boards. She was a voracious reader and loved the arts, as well as working in her garden. She will be greatly missed by her extensive family and community of friends.
If you’d like to honor Gretchen, share a recipe or feed the birds outside your window. Make someone feel special and see their own talents; she did that for all of us. Gretchen will be cremated, and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date: details will be announced in the future.
Casperson Funeral Home in Sister Bay is assisting the family. Memories may be shared through her tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com. Donations can be made in Gretchen’s name to The Clearing Folk School, Peninsula Music Festival, and Björklunden. The family would like to thank the first responders from the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Department and the wonderful staff at Door County Medical Center and Unity Hospice.