Gretta June (Wentz) Peterson, 90, was called home Wednesday, April 20, when she joined her family in the Lord’s House. As she passed, Gretta was surrounded by family, friends and love as she peacefully completed her journey home. Gretta was born in Hartford City, IN on May 26, 1931 and was the oldest of 3 children born to Clarence and Virginia (Barber) Wentz. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband David, whom she cared for ten years at home while he battled frontal lobe dementia, their two sons John and Phillip Peterson and her brother Clarence "Bud" Wentz. She is survived by her son Steve Peterson from Elkhart, IN, her daughter Amy (David) Reeb from Cincinnati, Ohio, her grandson Zane, currently attending Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, her step-granddaughter Abigail, currently living in Taiwan, her sister Mary (John) Dodson from Little Rock, AR, as well as several nieces and nephews.
Gretta graduated in 1949 from Elkhart High. She obtained her nursing degree from the revered Memorial School of Nursing in South Bend and as her professional career progressed, she made the commitment to obtain her BSN from Indiana University South Bend all while working at the Elkhart County Health Department as the Director of Home Health Care Division and managing a family with four teenagers. She met her husband David Peterson on a blind date at a football game. They were married on December 27, 1953 and had four children. They moved to Elkhart in 1954 and were life-long members of Augustana Lutheran Church where Gretta advocated for and provided parish nursing services until moving to Greencroft in Goshen.
Gretta worked at Elkhart General Hospital and for Dr. C. Richard Yoder's office before following what became her passion, home health care. Gretta was a pioneer in advocating for the provision of home health care regardless of a person's time of life or economic need. She was employed by the Elkhart County Health Department (ECHD) from 1972 to 1986 where she eventually became the Director of Home Health Care Division. In addition to directing home care RN's and nurse aid services, she had the vision to hire the first in home physical therapist and in home social worker. During her time there Gretta weathered transitions though several different office locations, as well as a variety of Health Officers. Gretta could be demanding but always fair and compassionate, and when the powers that be in county government cut funding to home health care she resigned rather than chance a lesser standard of care. Gretta was all about making preventive and restorative health services available for the general population not reducing them.
Gretta served as a charter board member and helped form the Elkhart Community Hospice, the first Hospice agency in our community. After leaving the Health Department, Gretta spent a decade growing a Home Care Department through Elkhart General Hospital. Gretta eventually, with five of her nursing chums (as her son John referred to her like-minded home care professionals), started her own home care business. Gretta ended her professional career by becoming the first paid certified Parish Nurse in the county while working with St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Elkhart.
Gretta loved to spend time with her immediate and extended family. She did not really enjoy cooking but was very fond of anything sweet…Gretta loved her chocolates! She was an avid sports fan, watching games in person or on TV and she loved Notre Dame and the Blue Blazers. Gretta followed politics very closely championing many conservative causes. She enjoyed several types of music, especially when her son John performed, and she was a collector of fine things as well as the whimsical.
Gretta never really retired. She worked less and antiqued more but never stopped volunteering or nursing even after catering her own 80th birthday party. The family wishes to express their thanks to the Greencroft staff for their care to Gretta the last 4 years, especially during the challenges of Covid.
Visitation will be held at Augustana Lutheran Church starting at 10 AM on Friday morning, April 29, 2022. A celebration of life and church service will follow at 11:30 AM with burial following later in the afternoon in Hartford City, IN. Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be given to the Center for Hospice Care or the Greencroft Goshen Foundation.
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