Peter James Gretchen died peacefully at home on February 4, 2015 at the age of 92. Pete was born July 10, 1922 in Saskatchewan, Canada. His family was one of the original members of the Russian Colony that settled on 140 acres of farmland outside Manteca, California in the 1920’s. A close-knit community, their values of hard-work, integrity, and respect for others stayed with Pete throughout his life. He was always generous with his time, offering his skills to friends and neighbors and community organizations such as the Manteca Historical Museum.
A veteran of WWII, he served as a bomber crew chief at an airbase in England during the war. Pete had many wonderful stories of these years, including one of flying over Holland in a bomber which dropped parcels of food for the civilian population. After the war he met and married Mabel Fuller and they spent the first years of their married life in Stockton. In the 1950’s they moved back to the farm where he had been raised, building a beautiful home in the midst of the vineyard that his parents had planted.
A successful electrical contractor, Pete specialized in industrial work for factories making dehydrated foods, especially those utilizing geothermal energy throughout California, Nevada, and Idaho. He was also active throughout his life in initiatives and organizations promoting workplace safety. He served a term as president of the National Electrical Contractors Association, helping to bring best practices to the industry. He and his wife traveled widely both for work and pleasure, in the US and abroad. But his true joy came from his home, his farm, family, and friends. As a farmer he was often, in his own words, “out standing in his field.” His family is forever grateful for the neighbors and friends whose kindness helped make it possible for him to stay in the home he loved during his final years. He is survived by his son, Gene Gretchen and wife Kay, daughter Sylvia Gretchen, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
All services are private.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Thursday, February 12, 2015