Lucille Gritmacker

Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010

Longtime Alaskan Lucille Gritmacker, a woman who loved to travel, died Tuesday, Aug. 24 at Heritage Place in Soldotna at age 89.

Services will be held Sunday, Aug. 29 at 2 p.m. at Star of the North Lutheran Church, 216 North Forest Drive in Kenai. Final resting place will be at Fort Richardson National Cemetery with services there on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 1:30 p.m. Please meet at the gate at 1 p.m..

Mrs. Gritmacker was born on Jan. 29, 1921 on a farm in Fortier Township near Canby, Minnesota. As a young 4-H member, she learned the 4-H motto "To Make the Best Better" and continued that practice throughout her life. Even though she was legally blind for many years, Lucille found ways to cope with limited sight as she baked, grew beautiful flowers in Fairbanks, and lived independently for several years after her husband's death. As a world traveler, she visited Israel, Greece, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Mexico was her last passport stamp.

On June 29, 1946, Lucille married William Carl Gritmacker in Canby, Minnesota. Bill, a fellow Minnesotan, had been recently discharged from the Army where he had been stationed in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory working construction of Alaska Highway. The couple made their first home in Granite Falls, Minnesota until 1953 as owners of a gas station. In 1949, their daughter Linda was born. Bill could not get dreams of Alaska out of his mind, and in 1953, he returned to work construction on the Dew Line and other projects, including Lathrop High School in Fairbanks. From 1953 to 1957, the family lived in Bellingham, Minnesota, and owned a small movie theater, while Bill worked the six-month construction season in Alaska.

In 1957, Mrs. Gritmacker and their young daughter moved back to Alaska first living in the Alaskan trailer home. Much later, they built the home they would reside in until Mr. Gritmacker's death in 1998. This home with well-tended flowers and garden was within walking distance of recreational facilities where the couple liked to walk for exercise in the winter months. A person with many interests and talents, her main love was her family especially of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Gritmacker was a member of the Fairbanks Lutheran Church, Star of the North Lutheran Church in Kenai, the Pioneers of Alaska Auxiliary 8 and a lifelong member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Mrs. Gritmacker was preceded in death by her husband Bill in 1998 and siblings, Marcella Nelson, Harry and Willie Kapinos.

She is survived by her daughter, Linda Swarner of Kenai; grandchildren, Kimberly and Jeff Kraunz of Snowmass, Colo., and Matthew and Adrianna Muir of Washington, D.C.; and great-grandchildren, Anja and Brady Kraunz. She is also survived by her sister-in-law Jo Kapinos and many nieces and nephews in addition to the extended Swarner family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, 33955 Community College Drive, Soldotna, AK 99669.

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