In memory of

Gretchen Ann Spoelstra

Apr 15, 1947
Jan 23, 2021


Gretchen Ann Spoelstra was born on April 15, 1947 in Albany, New York to Janet Kirner Cheney and Winslow Cheney. She passed away on January 23, 2021 in Salem Oregon.  She married Rocky Spoelstra in the Salt Lake Temple on June 30, 1972.  Together they had two children: Kristen (Jim Short) and Erik (Kami) followed by seven grandchildren. 

Gretchen attended William and Mary for two years where she studied theater.  She left her studies at William and Mary to pursue an acting career by getting a job at Universal Studios in Los Angeles where she worked for about 2 ½ years in front of and behind the camera. While there, her father fell ill so she returned home to help care for her ailing father who would pass a short time later. While at home, she was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints through her father always teaching her to care for and support the LDS missionaries.  Realizing that a career as an actress was not so conducive to her ultimate goal of raising a family, she moved to Salt Lake City Utah in her early 20’s where she met my father Rocky Spoelstra. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Kalamazoo Michigan where they lived for 1 ½ years and welcomed her first child, a baby girl, into their family. Shortly after that, Gretchen returned to Farmington Utah with my father where they welcomed a second child into their family, a baby boy. They lived in Utah for the following 10 years. While there, she worked for Lagoon Amusement Park for 4 years as an artifact curator. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and realizing that the desert heat of Utah was not good for her declining health, she made the decision with my father to return to a colder climate and her childhood summer home in New Hampshire.  They would spend the next 34 years in Wolfeboro New Hampshire where they would finish raising their family and making many choice and lifelong friends. 

Gretchen was plagued with much pain throughout her life including being diagnosed with Epilepsy at the young age of 3 and Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 21.  Despite the constant physical pain she experienced throughout her life, she always had a smile on her face and would continually look for the good in every situation.  This speaks to the strong and courageous character she carried with her throughout her life.

Gretchen was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although her physical ailments would not allow her to conduct much service in the church, she always insisted in living her life in alignment to the principles and practices of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She held her relationship to her Savior very close to her heart and lived her life through the guidance and direction of the spirit of the Lord. 

Gretchen led a full and happy life.  Her hobbies included theater, crafts, and playing checkers with my dad.  She was always a very caring and helpful person and could often be seen talking with others, giving them advice, council, and helping them through any problem they may have.  Most of all she loved her family and worked continuously and tirelessly to provide the best life she could for them.

Gretchen was quick to pull her loved ones aside to have one-on-one teaching moments, sharing a nugget of wisdom or a meaningful observation. She was soft spoken, never angry, free with compliments, and ever expressing gratitude. She saw the best in everyone, made sure all felt included and unconditionally accepted, and sought for ways to fill the needs of those around her.  She often put others needs before her own.

On earth she had a love for her family history and was greeted by many family members in heaven that she will recognize through her work. She will be a great asset in the armies in heaven, accomplishing much in furthering God's work.

Gretchen is survived by her Husband of 49 years, Rocky Spoelstra; their two children, Kristen Short and Erik Spoelstra; her sister, Linda Nangeroni; and seven grandchildren, Jordan, Eisen, Tanner, Bryson, Brynna, Boston, and Baylee.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made either to the Missionary Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation through

Service Information

Funeral Service
Friday, January 29, 2021 at 1:30 pm
3645 Cloverdale Dr SE, Turner, OR 97392.
Interment (Immediately following service)
City View Cemetery
390 Hoyt St S, Salem, OR 97302

Messages of Sympathy

  1. Merrill Bausch (formerly Merrill Rich) says:

    Sending the Spoelstra family my deepest sympathy. Gretchen was a special lady with a beautiful smile, a kind heart and a quick sense of humor. I know she will be so missed.

  2. Zac Metzker says:

    Gretchen was a beautiful ray of sunshine no matter her circumstances. I always loved seeing Gretchen because I would see two things. First, a very classy lady that was always pulled together. Hair done, well dressed and always had a smile on her face. Second, I would see her bright red lipstick that would illuminate the finishing touches of perfection, that 'was' Gretchen. She will be sorely missed by all who had the opportunity to know her. RIP Gretchen, thank you for making our world a better place.

  3. Suzanne Schwaar Neilsen says:

    I have known Gretchen since before she joined the church, as she was my mother's cousin, (her father and my grandmother were brother & sister). I was at Rocky & Gretchen's wedding, the birth of both of her children and even worked with her for a time restoring antiques at Lagoon. I loved going to work and learning how to take care of the beautiful antiques. So many memories. I was there when she started having the first symptoms of what was finally diagnosed MS. We lost touch after I moved to California, but I kept tabs on her thru my mother, Agnes. My love to Rocky, Kristin,Eric and all the family. I know she is with her parents and mine right now, no longer in pain.

  4. Joni Teerlink says:

    I love this tribute, as I love Gretchen. Gretchen was a wonderful example to me. As a teenager I looked up to her and even though she was our cousin she seemed like a sister. I will always appreciate her, I love you Gretchen ...till we meet again.

  5. Carroll and Diane Seigars says:

    gretchen had a gentleness about her and always a smile. She will be missed on earth, but heaven has received a special angel of wisdom.

  6. Bruce Essler says:

    Gretchen and Rocky were a positive infulence for me while I investigated and then joined the church.

  7. Sherrie M. Rudy says:

    A sweetheart who set an example of faith in the midst of health trials. She always greeted everyone with a smile and caring personality. Til we meet again RIP dear friend.

  8. Patricia Morrill says:

    Gretchen was a tower of spiritual strength in this life , she will be missed by many.

  9. Staff of Johnson Funeral Home says:

    Thank you for trusting Johnson Funeral Home with her arrangements.

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