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 https://msfocus.org/.
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