Gretchen Heald Wales, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and great-aunt, passed away peacefully on November 11, 2012 in the care of Southview Suites at Northfield Retirement Community in Northfield, MN. She was 96 years old.
Gretchen was born on July 3, 1916, the eldest child of Emory David Heald and Alice Lawrence Heald in Milford, NH. She was the granddaughter of Mabel Putnam Lawrence as well as grandniece of Augusta Putnam and Henrietta Putnam Clark of Wilton, NH. Her stepmother in later years was Edna Davis Heald. Her father’s family owned and managed the French and Heald Furniture Company in Milford, NH for 3 generations. She enjoyed spending vacations with her family in Rockport, MA.
Gretchen graduated from high school in Nashua, NH in 1934 and from Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA in 1938 majoring in Sociology. Her special interests in music and the piano were nurtured during her college years and continued throughout her life. She was also keenly interested in current events, government, and politics.
In 1940 she met Burton Lincoln Wales, Jr. on the summit of Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire while visiting her brother, David. Lincoln and David were both students at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Gretchen and “Linc” were married on September 18, 1943 in Nashua, NH in the midst of World War II.
Gretchen attended the Harvard School of Education following college, taking a special course on the education of the blind. She worked as assistant to the director of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA for 3 years. She also worked for Wheaton College in Norton, MA in the admissions office. Gretchen later worked as administrative assistant to Dr. Homer Smith, Professor of Physiology at New York University Medical School and subsequently Dr. Charles Janeway, Chief of Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Gretchen was the loving and devoted mother of two children, Cynthia Wales Lund of Northfield, MN and Eric Lincoln Wales of Colchester, VT, and a son-in-law, Eric Lund. She was the grandmother of Karsten Wales Lund of Chicago, IL and Hannah Gretchen Lund of Richmond, VA. During her life with Linc and her children, she lived in the communities of New Bedford, South Dartmouth, and Wilbraham in Massachusetts as well as in Togus, ME at the Maine VA Hospital. In 1986, Gretchen and Linc moved to Minnesota to be near family in Northfield. Gretchen always made home to be a warm and welcoming place through her caring life as grandmother, mother, and wife. Since 1998, Linc and Gretchen have been residents at the Northfield Retirement Community.
Gretchen’s surviving family includes her two children and son-in-law, her grandson, as well as her granddaughter and fiancé. In addition she is survived by her sisters, Marilyn Moore of Portland, OR and Miriam Alexander of Chapel Hill, NC. She is also survived by sisters-in-law Betsy Wales of Yarmouth, ME, Mary Lee Wales of Salem, OR, Carol Wales of Seattle, WA, and Sylvia Graham of Saco, ME, as well as nieces and nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her brother, David Heald, and sister-in-law, Jane Winey Heald, of Elkins, NH, as well as her brothers-in-law, Floyd Moore of Portland, OR, and John Alexander of Chapel Hill, NC. Her husband, B. Lincoln Wales, Jr., died in September of 2011.
Her family wishes to express their profound gratitude to all those who cared for Gretchen in her last years, including the staff of Parkview and Southview Suites at Northfield Retirement Community, Dr. Mark Mellstrom and the staff of Lakeville Family Practice, as well as Dr. Thomas Holt and other care providers at Northfield Hospital.
Memorials remembering Gretchen are suggested to Northfield Retirement Community, musical organizations, nature conservation groups, or efforts serving the medical or social needs of children.
A memorial service will be held in Northfield in late December. Interment will be in Oaklawn Cemetery, Northfield.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com