Gretchen H. Zeunen

Gretchen H. Zeunen

Grosse Pointe Woods, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Death 5 Sep 1972 (aged 19)
Conway, Emmet County, Michigan, USA
Burial Good Hart, Emmet County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 8803620 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Gretchen was born the eldest daughter of Lee and Ardyth (Fahl) Zeunen. A native of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, she enjoyed snow skiing and was involved with the foreign exchange student programs. She was a vibrant young woman who made friends easily with her coppery-red hair framing hazel-green eyes and a beautiful smile. She graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School in 1971, and then attended Michigan State University. Over the years, she also enjoyed spending summers and vacations with her family at their cottage in Good Hart, Michigan, off the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. It was a place she greatly loved. It was in her beloved northern Michigan that she was walking home from her job at Petoskey's Holiday Inn early one late summer morning, and was accidentally struck by a car. She passed away, and is survived by her parents; her sister, Carin; her maternal grandparents, Arthur and Edith Fahl; her paternal grandmother; and many other relatives and friends. Funeral services were held at Zion Lutheran Church in Petoskey, with Rev. Joseph Fabry officiating. The family requests that donations in honor of Gretchen be made to Youth For Understanding, 2015 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Gretchen remains in the hearts and memory of many who walk along the shores of Lake Michigan.

An unrequited love story…

It was a very small northern Michigan town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Most of the summer community were made up of families from downstate. Teens would gather at the local trading post-type general store, and romp on the sandy shoreline of Lake Michigan. It seemed a safer time, that summer of 1972, and it was a beautiful place to while away the long summer days.

He was a young man of seventeen who enjoyed spending summers with his family at his grandparents' home. She was an "older" woman, a college girl of nineteen with flaming red hair, hazel-green eyes, and a smile that would light up his universe. She had a summer job and was getting ready to go back for her sophomore year. He was going to be a senior at his high school. All that summer, as in the many summers before, he'd loved her from afar, often watching her from his hiding place in the beach grass as she walked alone along the pristeen shores of the Lake she loved.

It was Labor Day weekend, and people were getting ready to go back to their homes and lives downstate. For most, it would be the last weekend of the season because school would be starting soon, and the cottages would be winterized until the next summer. On Saturday, the young man and the green-eyed beauty chatted easily at the general store, and bought some candy as children do. She teased that she knew he was there watching her walk the beach. Privately, she was flattered, and thought he was very cute. She invited him to come and visit her at college. Inwardly he was elated but tried to be "cool" and said that might be fun. She told him she'd give him a call when it was convenient for him to come. And they parted ways.

He'd wanted to stay for a few more days just to be near her, but his friends told him not to appear over-eager, and to let her call him. So, he left for his home downstate with his family the next day, Sunday. Her family left also, but she stayed behind to finish out her summer job before returning for college in a few weeks.

She was alone that night, according to the police report. She'd worked at a local hotel that Monday afternoon in a neighboring town, and was said to be hitchhiking the 15+ miles home at 3:30 a.m. along a stretch of rural highway, when she stepped in front of a vehicle driven by a 24-year-old man who lived nearby. He was the only witness. She was not carrying identification.

When her identity became known, her family came back north to take care of her remains. She was buried in a little cemetery near the summer cottage she loved, overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan.

The young man was busy with his school activities, but wondered why the beach beauty never called. Perhaps she'd found another young man, had fallen in love, and just went on with life. He'd visit the small northern Michigan town nearly every succeeding summer, walking the beach and hoping to run into her playing in the sun. He wished her nothing but happiness in her life, as he went on with his. And he never forgot her, imagining that maybe he'd see her walking again along that beach, perhaps with her husband and babies.

And the years went by...

The young man went to college and became successful. But he never married. He wanted the kind of love his parents had, and waited for it to find him, but it never came. His grandparents passed away, and then his beloved parents passed away. It was their wish to have their cremains scattered in Lake Michigan on the shores of the little town they'd loved. After a few years, he wanted to keep his promise to them, and in the summer of 2011, he made plans to do just that.

It was during this time that he got to thinking about the red-haired beauty with the dazzling smile, and he wondered how her life had gone, so he did an internet search. A high school reunion website told him the horrible news. Seeing her face in a memorial section was a shock, but seeing the date of her passing was absolutely heart-breaking. As he thought about their last summer weekend together, he realized that it was only two days later that she'd died ...and that was why she never called him.

It was decades later, yet her loss had just occurred for him, and he began to grieve for her - for what might have been - for following his head and not his heart that fateful weekend - for a beautiful life never lived nor fulfilled.

Grieving Gretchen

Plan a visit to Island View Cemetery?

  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Always with Love
  • Added: 20 May 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8803620
  • Knight In White Satin
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gretchen H. Zeunen (21 Apr 1953–5 Sep 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8803620, citing Island View Cemetery, Good Hart, Emmet County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .