Obituary of Jane Van Gretsinger
Jane Van Marshall Gretsinger March 8, 1936 – April 4. 2019
Born in Estevan, Saskatchewan to grain elevator inspector and WW1 RAF Veteran Keith Douglas Marshall and teacher Lillian Margaret Vanstone. Sister of Kay Vanstone Marshall. Twin sister of Ruth Morley Marshall Wright, (d. 2003).
Predeceased by loving husband, Allan Frederick Gretsinger (d. 2009) and daughters Jane (d.1961) and Mary (d.1963). Survived by daughters Ruth Anne Gretsinger (Will Ekels) and Ellen Marie Gretsinger, and son Lorne Edward Gretsinger. Fiercely proud of granddaughters Lillian Ruth Gretsinger (Chuck Cardona), Clara Ruth Gretsinger, and Jane Van Hattie Gretsinger, along with great-grandsons Allan Charles and Thomas Lorne Gretsinger Cardona. Van is also remembered by many nieces and nephews, cousins and relatives. The family of Anne and Bruce Knicley have walked this journey with us as the closest of friends for over 50 years.
Van excelled at tennis and academics, graduating from the University of Toronto with a BPHE and a Certificate of Public Health in 1956. She went on to work for St. Catharines Public Health and then attended the Toronto Teachers’ College before joining the faculty at Beamsville District Secondary School in September 1958, where she met Al. She was distinguished with an offer of admission to the University of Toronto Medical School but declined as she needed to fulfill her commitment to the high school.
Van made many commitments to the school and community. She was a CGIT leader at Trinity United in Beamsville, and she volunteered with Community Living to teach developmentally delayed children to swim at the old Kinsmen Park Pool. She was celebrated as a curriculum planner. She established a Saturday morning gymnastics program for local girls “Kinastics” in the 1970’s and remained an active coach at BDSS in gymnastics, swimming, basketball, volleyball and other sports. She was awarded Lincoln Citizen of the Year in 1980. Over the years, she coached and mentored thousands of young female athletes to reach their potential before retiring in 1992. She was most proud of a unique gift from her gymnasts - one of her own size 12 athletic shoes – bronzed for posterity.
Her strongest commitment, however, was always to family and friends. She was an avid seamstress who not only made clothing for her family, but also lovingly made wedding and bridesmaid dresses for many family friends. She became a champion at rug hooking with the local Rowans of Rittermere style. She continued to play tennis until she was 75. She volunteered at the schools that Ruth and Lorne taught at long after her retirement. Despite her own achievements, she focused all of her energy on supporting and encouraging the dreams of her children and grandchildren.
Perhaps most telling of her soaring spirit was her achievement in earning an Ultralight Airplane Pilot’s Licence; she was always embracing new horizons.
Ruth, Ellen and Lorne would like to offer our sincerest thanks to Dr. Kim Bender, Dr. Joel Bluman, Dr. Amanda Marrone, and the staff at the Smithville Family Health Team for their thoughtful care of Van over the last year. Thanks also to Rev. Jane Capstick of Silver Spire United Church for spiritual support to Mom and the family. Van’s life journey ended at McNally House Hospice, where staff and volunteers helped keep her comfortable in the final hours; the care she experienced there is the hallmark of a community that she loved so much.
Visitation will be Monday, April 8 times 2-4pm and 6-8pm at Tallman Funeral Home, Vineland Chapel. Funeral services will be at 10:30am on Tuesday, April 9 at Silver Spire United Church, 366 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to McNally House Hospice OR the Education Foundation of Niagara where a fund will be set up in her name to benefit the new West Niagara Secondary School.