November 28, 1930 – August 20, 2018
MAGDALENA GRENTZ (1930 – 2018) A HAPPY LIFE WELL LIVED
Magdalena Grentz, 87, of Winter Park, Florida, passed away peacefully on August 20, 2018. She died after a brief and sudden illness.
Magdalena was born in Constanta, Romania, the first born of Herbert and Adela Gottke. Her family lived in a German village in Romania. Her father was a rice miller. Her mother was a mid-wife as well as running a small dairy business with three cows. She attended both German and Romanian schools. Magdalena recalled wonderful childhood experiences.
As a small child, she was quarantined in the hospital along with other children that had a contagious disease. Her father asked Magdalena to name what she wanted while in the hospital. She requested 30 chocolate bars so she could give one to each child on the ward. Herbert, her father, came to the hospital’s window and fulfilled her wish. Magdalena was a very generous soul, always sharing with her family, friends and neighbors.
One of the major life changing events was World War II. On her tenth birthday, the entire family was forced to leave their home. Throughout her teens, the family lived as refuges first in Austria, then in Czechoslovakia, back to Austria and finally after the war in Germany. They lived on the road, in a horse drawn wagon. The Gottkes, along with other families, were seeking a peaceful existence in the middle of the war.
Magdalena, while carrying her baby brother Reinhard, recalls stumbling into a fire fight between warring parties. A friend screamed, “Child, throw yourself to the ground.” Magdalena threw her body over her brother then fell to the ground. She remembered bullets whizzing over her head. Magdalena was frightened but not harmed.
Her family was separated several times during the war. As the “big sister” to her brothers Edmund (Eddie) and Reinhard, she served as protector, supporter and friend. These special bonds lasted a life time.
The experiences of the war taught her to survive and thrive. She overcame many obstacles through her tough, war-sharpened spirit. She also learned to trust God for protection and help. During the war the family had very little to eat or own. Magdalena lived all of her life focused on the most important aspects—loving her family, friends and neighbors.
After the war, while living in Germany, she met the love of her life—Arthur Grentz. Arthur actually grew up in the same village she lived in Romania. He was a prisoner of war during World War II. Through mutual friends, they reunited again. They dated and were married in 1951 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Their first child—Wolfgang--was born in Germany.
Post war Germany was a difficult place to live with limited work opportunities. Seeking a brighter future, they immigrated to the United States in 1952. They traveled by plane on one of the last military flights to transport immigrants.
First, they lived a short time in Colorado. On the train from New York to Colorado, Magdalena taught herself the English language. They then moved to Michigan, where her parents were living. They were sponsored by a wonderful family in Michigan—the McFaddens—and lived and worked on their farm.
Arthur, Magdalena and Wolfgang moved to Chicago, Illinois. One of their first apartments was located behind the German Seventh-day Adventist church near Wrigley Field. Magdalena cleaned the church and Arthur found work in the building profession. Arthur’s work in concrete included building the famous Marina Twin Towers. Arthur then worked for the City of Evanston for many years.
Six years after coming to America they bought their first home in Evanston, Illinois. Soon after, their second child, Ruth and third child, John were born.
Magdalena kept an immaculate home. Life revolved around the church, family and friends. Several neighbors noticed how she kept her home so beautiful and clean. They invited her to clean for them. This began an almost 30-year career assisting families in the Chicago area. Magdalena (also affectionately known as Madeline) became part of their family—the Auerbach’s, the Zippel’s and others. In addition to cleaning, she catered, gardened and supported their family life while maintaining her own home.
The Grentz family settled on the north side of Chicago, owning their home in Evanston for 16 years then a two-flat home in Skokie, Illinois for 16 years.
In 1989, Magdalena and Arthur felt the need to retire early. They moved to the idyllic town of Holland, Michigan where her aging father and brother lived. Magdalena and Arthur loved their time in Michigan. They purchased their dream house on a “tulip-lined” street. The first year of the tulip festival, Magdalena didn’t know how famous their road was, until she took out the garbage early in the morning--only to find tour busses constantly driving by! One of her neighbors said after Magdalena moved into the neighborhood they all had to work twice as hard on their lawns to keep up with her. She won City awards for her garden and yard.
Magdalena believed to have good neighbors, you had to be a good neighbor. She loved to cook, bake, garden and entertain. Her family and friends recall her wonderful baked masterpieces. She even catered her children’s wedding receptions. Cooking and baking were truly a labor of love. Special occasions were always good times to bake. But there never really was a bad time to bake.
After the death of her husband Arthur in 2006 and the unexpected death of her brother Eddie in 2010, she lived two years through the kindness of her beloved niece Barbie Howard, neighbors and fellow Holland Seventh-day Adventist church members. She was chauffeured taken to doctor appointments, church, and grocery shopping. Living life by herself, however, was getting harder.
In October 2012, after bequeathing all her furniture and keepsakes to her children, she moved to Winter Park, Florida to live with her daughter Ruth and her favorite son-in-law (her only son-in-law) Ken. She enjoyed living in Florida and took part in many of the activities her children enjoyed. Magdalena walked daily. She went to church and retirement fellowships. She even attended an Orlando Magic basketball game.
Magdalena was known for walking two miles per day until the day after her 86th birthday. That day she traveled to see her son Wolfgang in Atlanta. Somehow on a very delayed flight, she began a noticeable and serious health decline. She was hospitalized for a month in December 2016, then three months in two rehabilitation centers. After some recovery, she lived almost a year in the Assisted Living Facility Brookdale at Lake Orienta in Altamonte Springs, FL. She fell in January 2018 and soon was transferred to the Skilled Nursing Facility--the Gardens at DePugh--in Winter Park, Florida, where she lived her final five months. Magdalena was very grateful for the loving and kind care she received.
Magdalena was preceded in death by an infant brother Helmut Gottke, her parents Adela and Herbert Gottke, husband Arthur Grentz, brother Eddie Gottke, daughter-in-law Patricia Grentz and granddaughter Crystal Hecox.
She is survived by family who love and adore her. Son Wolfgang Grentz of Fayetteville, Georgia; daughter Ruth Bradley (son-in-law Ken) of Winter Park, Florida; and son John Grentz (daughter-in-law Cynthia) of Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Brother Reinhard Gottke (sister-in-law Marilyn), Red Bluff, California and one sister-in-law and close friend Emmie Grentz of London, Kentucky.
Magdalena loved her grandchildren: James Grentz, Jennifer Borland, Jason Grentz, Justin Grentz, Melanie Winiger, Joshua Grentz and Matthew Grentz. She had 14 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.
She was a beloved “Tante” or “Tant” (Aunt) to countless nieces and nephews.
Magdalena was a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist Christian. She loved God and God loved her. Her faith was clearly in Jesus, His salvation and His second coming. She lived an exemplary life practicing kindness to those around her. In her last prayer, she prayed to God “Happy Thank you” for the life she lived.
Magdalena Grentz will be privately interned in the Graafschap Memorial Cemetery, Holland, Michigan in a family plot where her husband, parents and brother Eddie are buried. A Memorial Service | Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 3:00 PM in the Holland Seventh-day Adventist Church, Holland, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made on her behalf to Holland Adventist Academy, 11385 Ottogan Street, Holland, Michigan 49423 or Orlando Junior Academy, 30 East Evans Street, Orlando, Florida 32804 benefiting elementary education.
- Memorial Service/Celebration of Life Saturday, September 1, 2018
- Private Burial
September 1, 2018
Magdalena was an inspiration and joy to be around. She attended the sabbath School class were I was one of the teachers. Her stories were priceless. I especially enjoyed her stories that involved making “apple strudel”. I enjoyed her presence in our sabbath school class and church fellowship. Magdalena will be missed. Monica and I pray for the family as you live through your loss. May you trust in God that you will be reunited with Magdalena when God returns. Cherish the memories of Magdalena and live a life that you may see her when Jesus comes to take us home. God can be trusted.
Stanton and Monica Reed