Gretchen Heidemann Wellsteed Turner

BEAR Valley Springs, CA – Gretchen Heidemann Wellsteed Turner, 85, of Bear Valley Springs, CA, passed away peacefully on Jan. 17, 2017.

Gretchen was born on June 10,1931 in Ironwood, Michigan to Richard E. Heidemann and Gertrude M. Coleman Heidemann. She lived in Negaunee in the Upper Peninsula of MI with her family.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her older sister, Helen. Her siblings, who currently reside in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are John, Roberta (Bobbie) and Peter.

Gretchen married Robert (Bob) Wellsteed in 1951 and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she became the mother of Kimberly Wellsteed (Keith) Clow, Mitchell (fiance’ Janice Tomson) Wellsteed and Barbara Wellsteed (John) Dougherty.

The family later moved to New Berlin, WI where Gretchen worked as a Methodist Church secretary. Both Gretchen and Bob were scout leaders and active in the church. She raised a family that enjoyed camping and exploring the outdoors. Summers were spent at Bass Lake in Gwinn, MI with Gretchen’s Michigan family.

The family moved to Torrance, California in 1966. Bob preceded Gretchen in death in 1969 at the age of 42.

As a single parent, Gretchen worked as a secretary for an engineer. She remarried in 1971 to Kenneth W. Turner. The family was joined by his three children Pam Nelson, Debbie Baird, and Kenneth Turner, Jr. Gretchen and Ken were active in the South Bay Tennis Club and loved having friends over for backyard barbeques.

Upon retirement in 1986, Gretchen and Ken built a home in Bear Valley Springs where they spent the past 30 years. Gretchen was active in golf and tennis. She along with Ken were two of the founding members of the Bear Valley Tennis Club. She and Ken found paradise in Bear Valley Springs and in the wonderful friendships grown there.

Gretchen loved every person who came into her life. She had a passion for music and found joy in singing. She was very caring and accepting of all. She had a zest for life and love that was as contagious as her kind gracious smile and warm hugs. Our sweet Gretchen (Gigi) will be missed by all who knew her. Behind her smile, was a strong determined person.

In the last 5 years of her life, Gretchen climbed many mountains with her complications from brain surgery for Essential Tremors, her rattlesnake bite and several falls. During this time, she faced each challenge with strength, elegance and beauty.

The family thanks her caregivers, Sierra Vista Resort in Bear Valley Springs, and Optimal Hospice for the love and care she was given.

Gretchen’s husband Ken and step-daughter, Pam have preceded her in death.

Gretchen enjoyed life with her five grandchildren, Christal Dawn (Scott) Rons, Elisabeth Marks (Jeff) Lepine, Jeremiah (Shelly) Marks, Shannon Wellsteed, and Ryan (Melanie) Clow, five step grandchildren, Rob Nelson, Eric (Jamie) Nelson, Christy (Bruce) Madrid, Gerald (Regina) Baird, and Jennifer Baird, 16 great grandchildren Juliet Pepper and Lucy Jane Lepine, Emmaline Grace Arrigotti, Tyler and Tristan Marks, Donovan and Quinn Clow, Cheyenne and Sierra Carpenter, Cassondra and Alisa Nardozza, Dustry, Dustin and Dason Baird, Emily and Madelyn Nelson; and 4 great-great grandchildren, Andrelina Gonzalez Brayden White, Aubrey Rose Driver, and Jesus Garcia.

Donations in Gretchen’s name may be made to the Bear Valley Springs Community Recreation Facilities Foundation, BVSCRFF; Optimal Hospice Foundation 1315 Boughton Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308 or to your local SPCA.

A Celebration of Gretchen’s Life will be at the Bear Valley Church, Tehachapi, California on February 10, 2017 at 1pm. Her family will honor her with a private graveside service when she is buried in the Negaunee Cemetery in July 2017.