Obituary of Vreni Margareth Gretener
January 14, 1931 - March 21, 2023
Vreni Gretener passed away peacefully in Calgary, AB, on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at the age of 92 years. Vreni is survived by three sons and a daughter-in-law, Chris, Nick, Daniel and Kathy; and three grandchildren, Troy, Jessica and Kristin. She was predeceased by her husband Peter.
Vreni was born in Switzerland, where she taught for a year at a kindergarten in Frauenfeld (peering through the windows of that kindergarten sixty years later, she was delighted to see the very same wooden toys she had acquired for her kids were still in use—some things really do last!).
In 1954, young Vreni courageously said goodbye to her family and friends to undertake a daunting journey to that unknown but intriguing country of Canada to marry her love, Peter, and start a new life. The young couple, and growing family, lived in various places, including Edmonton, Calgary and Houston, before finally putting down roots in Calgary. Vreni was a social butterfly. Famous for her fabulous parties, she was an apt Ying to Peter’s more serious Yang. She quickly developed a wide network of friends from all walks of life. While she did her duty as President of the Faculty Women’s Club, organizing the social highlight of University Life, the Town and Gown Ball, she never let academe go to her head and would just as happily pass the time of day with her cleaning lady as with the University President.
Those who knew her well called her “Granola Lady”, down to earth and easy to relate to – what we today call a people person. She had an adventurous spirit that was reflected in the thousands of kilometers she logged with her beloved Tuesday Hikers. Perhaps her crowning mountaineering feat was a “winter” ascent of Mt. Victoria in August, with a sizeable new snowfall at the summit!
Her generous nature taught us the practice of “targeted charity” as opposed to rote donations to large institutions. Find someone worthy in need, they are all around us, and pick your moment to help them up. Like the woman at the thrift store in Jackson Hole who was short $25 for a badly needed winter coat.
Vreni’s talents ran the gamut of music (countless recorder lessons), cooking and baking (featured in the Calgary Herald in numerous articles over the years), crafts (her annual craft fairs were legendary) and environmentalism (she was recycling—saving all of society’s excess packaging for reuse—before anyone knew what that term was really all about).
Perhaps most important, certainly to her three boys, were her maternal qualities. She devoted herself full-time to the raising of those boys, a task that was certainly not without its challenges. We all felt her love over the years and have always counted ourselves lucky to have the mom we did. She remains a large part of who and what we are today. Can there be a better legacy? At the end, she was fulfilled and ready to end her journey. A life well lived. We will all miss her dearly and will try to take with us her life example.
A Celebration of Vreni's Life will be held at 195 Cardiff Drive, N.W., Calgary, on Saturday, April 8, 2023 from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. All who knew Vreni are invited to drop by for a bite, a drink and to perhaps share a story or two about our beloved "Granola Lady".
Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed here.