Gretchen Ann Schaaf (75) of Mandan, passed away on April 23, 2021 at Edgewood Vista, Mandan.
A Funeral Service will be held at 11:30 AM on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at First Presbyterian Church, Mandan, ND with Rev. Deanna Reikow officiating. Burial will be at Mandan Union Cemetery.
Visitation will be held Friday, April 30, 2021, from 5:00-7:30 PM at Weigel Funeral Home, Mandan. Visitation will continue at the church one hour prior to the service on Saturday.
The family asks anyone who wishes to attend the visitation and/or funeral service to wear a mask.
Gretchen was born in Mandan, ND, on St Patrick's Day, March 17,1946, the daughter of Joseph P. and Vivian L. Schaaf. She was raised in Mandan, attending K-12 schools and graduating from Mandan High School in 1964. She subsequently attended Valley City State University and Capitol Commercial College. As a young adult, she worked as a Sales Associate with Mandan's JCPenny store and as a model for Nelson’s House of Brides and local papers. Somewhat later, she garnered a career position at North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) in Mandan as Receptionist and Employee Business Travel Coordinator and later as Inventory and Purchasing Coordinator. She also tested recipes and reported the results through the NDREC magazine and a cookbook published by the First Presbyterian Church Women. These and other publications gave some of her recipes both state and national visibility. Each year Gretchen represented the NDAREC in booths at the North Dakota State Fair and the Norsk Hostfest in Minot. International visitors often attended these events. She was actively involved professionally in the National Association of Purchasing Managers. She attended many national meetings and was once chosen as President of the Northern Plains affiliate.
She was a member of Mandan's First Presbyterian Church. There she served as an Elder and served on various committees. She was also a Sunday School Teacher and sang in the choir. She was a member of the Prairie Prose Toastmaster's Club, Mandan Lions Club, Mandan Eagles Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary and the Mandan “Art in the Park” Festival Committee.
Although Gretchen was never married, she loved children. She helped in the care and nurturing of her nephew and two nieces, plus frequently entertaining the neighboring Siegfried, Ocampo and Walter kids. She often put on kid shows during which she dressed up as either a "turkey gobble-gobble-gobbler" or a clown (AND ADDED HER UNIQUE GIGGLES-HEE-HEE-HEE). Kids were "magnetically" attracted to her, and she responded with love for them. She extended this trait to adults as well.
Gretchen was the epitome of a social butterfly. It seems she knew at least one person in every township in North Dakota and, of course, the names of all their children and to whom they were related. She appeared to have a "photographic memory" connecting new people she met to others she knew.
Gretchen also loved to travel, starting with a North Coast Limited RR trip to Tacoma sharing a Pullman (sleeper) Section with her mother and older brother. This love of travel continued via various family motor trips to the Tacoma area with stops in Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff and Mount Rainier National Parks along the way. She made trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and other North American destinations. A high point of her travels came with her extended trip to Australia to visit friends. Another high point came as Gretchen traveled with cousin Kay Malmgren to Sweden to meet her ancestral Malmgren maternal relatives.
Gretchen is survived by a younger brother, David (special friend-Ginger Illich), Mandan, and older brother Joel, Kelso, WA; a nephew, Andrew (Erin) and family in Moorhead, MN; nieces, Alison of Willmar, MN, and Amy of Bismarck; sisters-in-law, Lucinda Connery of Kelso, WA and Jane Schaaf of Longview, WA; last but not least, Gretchen was survived by her three "adopted " sisters, Marsha Beylund, Patty Robinson, and Rita Kopp, who were her “rock.”
Gretchen was preceded in death by her parents; and sister-in-law, Peggy Reichmuth-Schaaf.
The family thanks the community for their support, acts of kindness, and compassion during Gretchen's ordeal with glaucoma and battles with cancer and dementia. We especially thank Edgewood Vista, Mandan and Caring Edge Hospice for their loving care and support. We are grateful as well to Drs. Volk, Gray, Dunnigan, and Belzer-Curl and their respective staffs.
Memorials may be made to Mandan First Presbyterian Church or Alzheimer's Association (7900 West 78th St., Suite 100, Edina, MN 55439).