It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gretchen Marie Rosenberg, age 80. Gretchen (formerly of Summit & then Florham Park) passed away on July 27, 2023. She was surrounded by her loving family at her bedside at Sunrise Assisted Living in Madison, NJ. Gretchen was a passionate and caring woman who made it her mission to improve the lives of all who were blessed to have known her.
She was predeceased by her mother, Wilda (nee Angell) and her father, Clifton Bowers. Gretchen is survived by her brother, Eric Bowers; Victor, her husband of fifty-seven years; her son, Pete; her daughter, Stacey; her son-in-law, Steve Cook; her daughter-in-law, Sally; and her four wonderful grandchildren: Sophie, Ellie, Miles, & Sydney. Gretchen was one of the first happy faces that all four grandchildren saw upon their birth. Her calming and reassuring presence for her daughter and daughter-in-law made her an obvious choice to be in the delivery room when her grandchildren were born!
Gretchen was born on April 5, 1943 in Cortland, NY. She grew up in the tiny upstate hamlet of South Otselic, NY, where she enjoyed time growing up with her extended family. Upon graduation from high school she went to the big city and earned a Nursing degree from Albany Medical Center. She landed her first nursing job at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Gretchen went on to work at Hackensack Hospital and Overlook Hospital.
Gretchen’s prolific nursing career included time as a Millburn Visiting Nurse, a hospice nurse, a discharge planner, and finally the interim Executive Director at Vista Health, a 300+ doctor member physician group in Summit.
From the start of Gretchen’s married life with Vic, their Methodist & Jewish upbringings led them as a couple to the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. The Unitarian community throughout her life broadened her perspective on important issues, such as the struggle for Civil Rights. She joined anti-racism workshops, book discussion groups, women’s groups, and supper circles. When Gretchen and her family moved to Summit, NJ, they joined what was then called the Unitarian Church in Summit, now called the Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
For over 40 plus years of her Beacon membership Gretchen was engaged in welcoming others, pastoral care, the annual garage sale, membership committees, fundraisers as well as being the President of the Board of Trustees. She was a kind and generous person who led with her compassion and was truly a pillar of the community.
Gretchen was a fiercely dedicated mom to her children and grandchildren. When her kids, Stacey & Pete, were growing up, she enjoyed cheering them on in sports, band, plays, and anything that caught their interest. When Gretchen became a grandmother, she also lit up watching her grandchildren thrive in basketball, lacrosse, soccer, dance, Girl Scouts, plays, recitals, and concerts. Gretchen also gave the warmest of hugs and kisses!
In 2002, Vic and Gretchen purchased their dream lake home on Plymouth Reservoir in upstate NY. The lake house was to be a place where the whole family could gather to build great memories. This home was a short drive from where Gretchen grew up, near where her mom was getting care at the time, and was also close to her brother, Eric, and his family. Gretchen absolutely glowed when spending time at the lake house and spent many hours outside in her garden, chatting with neighbors, going on long walks around the lake, and she loved hosting family and friends. Among her many gifts, Gretchen was incredibly gracious & filled her home with warmth and kindness. Over the 15 years that Gretchen & Vic had their lake house, there were many fourth of July celebrations, birthdays, Memorial Days, tubing, fishing, games, pancake breakfasts, New Year’s Eves, and times to just relax with family and friends on the deck and enjoy the peaceful sunsets.
For the last few years, Gretchen battled Alzheimer’s disease with bravery, dignity, and grace. In 2019, Gretchen moved into the Reminiscence community at Sunrise Assisted Living of Madison. From the moment she arrived at Sunrise, the staff fell in love with her, as did any one who ever met her. At Sunrise she loved to walk the halls, hold the baby dolls, and do “rounds” with the nursing staff to check on all of her fellow residents. The care team at Sunrise is filled with compassionate, funny, loving people who treated Gretchen with great kindness.
In her final days, Gretchen was in hospice care, receiving the compassionate care that she had given for so many years to countless others. The ripple of her life still ebbs out in the families and individuals touched by her care, integrity, and attention.
There will be a Celebration of Life service for Gretchen on Saturday, September 23 at 11AM at the Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, which is located at 4 Waldron Avenue in Summit, NJ 07901. Following the service, there will be a light lunch and refreshments available. The service will also be available to attend remotely via Zoom. https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84650471350 Meeting ID: 846 5047 1350 For those that plan to attend the service in person, Gretchen’s family kindly requests for you to please RSVP at this link https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904044AACAF28A3F94-memorial by September 9.