Born Gretel Emma Von Fehren on March 2, 1931 in Horst, Germany, she immigrated to the USA in June of 1953. Gretel immediately started working as a seamstress at I Magnin in San Francisco, then, as a cashier at the Grand Market in San Francisco, where she met Manfred in 1960. One of their first dates was to the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, and they were married in May 1963.
Gretel was a very skilled seamstress who made both her daughter’s and daughter-in-law’s wedding dresses! In addition to being a full-time mother to her two children, she also held several part-time jobs. She started her own business as a seamstress. For a short time, she worked at Atari, assembling video game consoles. She was also a food sampler, and then worked for five years at See’s Candies, where her sweet tooth really began to develop. She was a fantastic cook, who, despite her north German roots, learned how to make Schwaebische dishes such as spaetzle and Mauel Teschle.
With her husband, she was able to travel frequently to various destinations, including: The Panama Canal, The Baltic Sea, Germany, Australia, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Yosemite, as well as Michigan to visit her “sister” and best friend, Erika Lohrmann.
She was a big part of the German community, and the Hermann Sons of Petaluma where Gretel was a member since 1985. She served on the Hall Committee. Gretel was the kitchen manager as well as the Grand Lodge president.
Gretel is survived by her loving husband, Manfred, and her two children, Kevin and Karin, and her four granddaughters: Heidi, Emily, Nelly and Kaley Belle.
A memorial service and celebration of life is to be held Sunday, May 21 at 1:00 pm. The doors open at 12:00 at the Hermann Sons Lodge, 860 Western Ave. in Petaluma.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Gretel’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org
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