Peg (Gathman) French www.thesoulpurpose.net
Grace passed from 93 years of the fullness of life to life eternal on March 7, 2020 on the same corner of the Wheaton neighborhood where she lived since she was 2 years old She died surrounded by family as we told her of our love, held hands and prayed. She looked at us all one last time and gently left her tired body.
Grace was preceded in death by her parents Herbert and Margaret Court, first born son, David W. Gathman (d. 1954), husband of 63 years, Richard O. Gathman (d. 2011), and sister Margaret Racz (d. 2015). She is survived by children Rev. Peggy (Christopher) French, Dale (Robin) Gathman and Tom (Mary) Gathman; grandchildren Matthew (Caitlin) Shelton, Doug (Amy) Gathman, Amanda (Craig) Stanley and Laura Gathman; and great grandchildren Jack, Brian, Skylar, Ethan and Miles. She leaves behind many nieces and nephews. In addition she leaves her best friend of 80 years, Elaine Stark, with whom she talked and corresponded every week since their freshman year of high school. Dale and Robin have adopted her beloved cat Spicy, who stayed by her side and brought her great comfort throughout the last 9 years since her husband Dick’s passing.
Grace’s first job was selling honey from her father’s bee hives. At age 10 she went to 5 th grade classrooms in Wheaton and Glen Ellyn to teach her fellow students (including her future husband) about raising bees. We have a delightful photo of her at that age moving a swarm of bees. During her years as a Wheaton Community High School student, she worked at the original Prince Castle until the absence of young men due to WWII caused her to become a Special Delivery Mail Girl. She delivered packages by bike including to Billy Graham, who she remembered as a very handsome college student at Wheaton College. When she obtained her driver’s license, she drove a Wheaton mail route until the war was over. At age 18, she became a medical assistant to Dr. Oakey for several years, during which she truly fell in love with the medical field. Twenty years later she served on the DuPage County Coroner’s Jury.
She met future husband Dick Gathman at his youth group going away party when he joined the Navy. Their families were members of Glen Ellyn Bible Church where they worshipped and later raised their children. Grace and Dick began their marriage as they lived their lives: with honesty, generosity and hard work. Together they built their first house from a kit next door to her parents. The grief at the loss of David stayed with them but because they were loving and generous parents, they became neighborhood parents to all our friends. Their 4 grandchildren were the delight of their lives and they were present at all of their important events as well as being a second home for them. They taught us resilience, humor and tenacity.
Grace embraced life to the fullest from the time she was born. Curious about everything and everyone, she made others feel important and loved. Compassionate and intelligent, she enrolled in the College of DuPage School of Nursing at age 54 and became a rehabilitation nurse at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital from 1980-1998. After retirement she became a Meals on Wheels volunteer, bringing her grandchildren to help with deliveries. She was a voracious reader and loved learning to the very end of life. She loved to research and discovered genealogy in midlife, learning to use a computer, an iPad and a Kindle. Genealogy introduced her to relatives around the globe, whom she quickly befriended for life including traveling to the British Isles and Germany. We will miss her many gifts and hobbies: knitting, crafting, making greeting cards, paper art, quilting, collecting various antiques, gardening, birding and decorating for every single holiday season.
Grace’s questioning mind led her beyond church doctrine. To this day, her friends and family remember her as always being feisty. Her faith grew be- yond the boundaries of church and she was devoted to loving others as a testimony to her faith. She once said “The Ten Commandments are easy to follow. But loving your neighbor is tough.” She truly loved her neighbors, be they near her house or simply in her heart. She was a vital part of Commu- nity Baptist Church in Warrenville, Illinois from 1989 until her death. We are especially grateful to Pastor Annette Owens of CBC, neighbors and the Covenant Hospice.
A Memorial Celebration of Life is being planned but postponed until after the current COVID-19 crisis. (Her advice to all of us in this time of self-quarantine would be: “you need a hobby.”) Grace and Dick’s internment will be at Forest Hill Cemetery in Glen Ellyn, Illinois on the grave of their son David. Dona- tions can be made in her memory to Community Baptist Church in Warrenville, Illinois or to the Southwest Indian Foundation Stove Assistance Program.