Gretchen M. Brinker, 68, of Fountain Hill, passed away peacefully on Monday, June 22, 2020, at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Fountain Hill.
Born in Oreland, PA, Gretchen was the daughter of the late Edgar S. and Beatrice (Rudolph) Brinker, the third eldest in a family of eight children who grew up in Abington, PA. As a little girl, Gretchen learned to swim as a member of the diving team at her family’s swim club, the place that she and her siblings whiled away many hot summer days. It was there that Gretchen’s lifelong affection for spending time in the water began. For the rest of her life, Gretchen would find comfort, joy, and peace in the water, whether she was dipping her toes in the ocean at the Jersey shore, paddling out into the Atlantic off the Florida coast, or sharing her love of swimming with others as an instructor at the YMCA. She adored bicycling in Cape May, collecting starfish from the sand, and eating fresh fish, especially lobster, bought straight off the dock. She liked to bask in the sun for hours in search of the perfect baby-oil tan, with a new book open in her hands. She was happiest whenever she had the chance to put on one of her many colorful bikinis and a pair of her tiny sandals (she wore a size 5 shoe) and head for the nearest beach, deck, or shore. Her bedroom was decorated with mermaids, sculptures and paintings and figurines—reminders of the sea.
Gretchen cultivated a free-spirited approach to life, an unconventional and laid-back attitude that dated back to her hippie youth in the 1960s and 70s, when she camped out at Woodstock, wore her hair long, and lived on a commune. At any party, you could find Gretchen in the middle of the dance floor, shimmying and boogying. Give her a tambourine and she’d shake it all night. She loved music of all kinds—the top forty hits of 2020 as much as the classic rock tracks she grew up listening to. She connected with people from every walk of life and made friends wherever she went; she was the kind of person whose conversation was memorable to strangers and acquaintances, even years later. Gretchen was devoted to her family and loved picking out and sending them gifts: Easter baskets for her daughters, flip-flops for her sister, Christmas dresses for her granddaughters, a tea pot for her niece. Gretchen is survived by her daughters Sage Edson and her husband William of Chappaqua, NY, Maya Bryson of San Diego, CA; grandchildren Ramsey and Rowan Edson; sisters Pamela Lester of Lead, SD, Denise Bense of Devon, PA; brothers Russel Brinker of Surprise, AZ, Mark Brinker of Columbia, MD, Robert Brinker of Florida. Gretchen was predeceased by her brothers Chris and Paul Brinker.
Services: Funeral services for Gretchen will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 10 A.M. at the Woodland Cemetery in Coopersburg, PA. A memory tribute may be placed at www.cantelmifuneralhome.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gretchen Brinker, please visit our floral store.