Gretchen Van Reyper
After a life full of adventure, challenges and accomplishments, Gretchen’s soaring spirit has left us for yet another journey. Her long, sometimes difficult, acquaintance with cancer gave her many insights into the mystery of life, brought her many new friends, to many new places and strengthened her will to live and appreciate every new day, every moment and sensation of life in all of its diversity. Even after leaving her body she has required it to continue working for the benefit of science and research before finding its final resting place among the rocks, waters and winds of the earth she so dearly loved.
Born and raised in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, love of nature and the outdoors were an integral part of her life. With her parents and three siblings, she learned to ski at a young age and spent summers canoeing, fishing and berry-picking at a remote family cabin on the shores of Lake Vermillion in Minnesota. Her athletic, competitive nature made her a star of the White Bear Lake High School track, cross-country and ski teams where she graduated with honors and a recipient of scholarships in 1973. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology from Mankato State University and pursued this career field throughout her life.
After leaving Minnesota and a brief period in the Northeast, Gretchen headed West "looking for adventure" and landed on the Western slope of the Colorado Rockies. She became a renowned, well-respected expert in plant identification, wetland studies, and soil restoration projects throughout Colorado and Utah. She was consulted regularly during the creation of the Montrose Botanic Gardens, was an active member Native Plant Society, a freelancer for Biologic, the BLM, and was most recently employed by ERO Resources Corporation in Hotchkiss, Colorado, as an ecologist researcher.
To honor Gretchen’s wishes, no funeral services will be held and a Celebration of Life Ceremony will be announced at a later date.
Survived by loving partner, caregiver and soul mate, Randy Berry of Delta, Colo.; her beloved cat Riley; father Richard Van Reyper of Tubac, Ariz., and Park City; mother Joan (Warren) Olson of Woodbury, Minn.; brother Peter and sister Wendy of Park City; niece Ingrid Roy of Salt Lake City; and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Preceded in death by sister Karen.
Special thanks to the Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado; staff at Delta Memorial and St. Mary’s Oncology center; CaringBridge.org for connecting family and friends; WOTM women for all your assistance, care-giving, sharing and love.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado or the Montrose Botanic Gardens’ "Gretchen’s Native Plant Garden Fund."
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Somewhere about the 35-foot level of the Flagstaff Mine, and moments after he called his friends above for light, the old ladder Paul Parmalee was descending gave way with a crash, and he plunged into the darkness to his death.