Gretchen Lubchenco Josephson
Gretchen Lubchenco Josephson

August 25, 1954 - March 19, 2017
Resided in Denver, CO
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Obituary

Gretchen Lubchenco Josephson, age 62, lifetime Denver resident, passed away peacefully on Sunday March 19th from complications of Down Syndrome with Alzheimer's Disease.

Gretchen was born Aug. 25, 1954 in Denver, Colorado, the fourth daughter of Drs. Carl John Josephson and Lula Olga Lubchenco Josephson. A diagnosis of "Down Syndrome was made on clinical observation. Many years later, when chromosomes could be counted, the diagnosis was confirmed."

Although most "mongoloids" were institutionalized at that time, Lula knew that they had a wide range of capabilities and therefore refused such a choice. Gretchen attended preschool at Colorado Womens' College at 4-5 years old. She then attended 2 years in Kindergarten in public school. She was then transferred to Special Education which she attended for the next 12 years. She graduated from South High in 1974. In College for Living, she studied food service and was placed in her first job, bus girl in the Denver Dry Tea Room.

Gretchen was employed at the Denver Dry Tea Room as a bus girl for 13 years, from 1974 to 1987. The May Company acquired the Denver Dry Tea Room and Gretchen learned retailing and stock work while working for the May Company from 1987 to 1992. When Foley's Dept. Store took over the May Company, Gretchen became a stock person and an assistant sales person and worked in the Children's Dept. Macy's was the last owner of the former Denver Dry Goods Company and Gretchen worked in the Children's Department and then was in charge of hanger collection and distribution. Gretchen retired after 37 years of continuous employment and with many accolades and awards for her loyal service to the retail community she loved and served.

Gretchen traveled extensively nationally and Internationally as a representative and speaker for Down Syndrome and as a self advocate. She gave many keynote speeches for the National Down Syndrome Congress in the United States. She also spoke and was recognized for her writing abilities at the International Down Syndrome Congress in Milan, Italy.

Gretchen loved writing poetry. She started by leaving small poems for her mother on her bedside stand. She had many collections of poems assembled by her mother for friends and family including "Peace and Other Poems" 1971, written in the ninth grade during the Viet Nam war; "Bus Girl and Other Poems" 1981, which revealed her struggle to accept her limitations and showed her strong sense of spiritual life; "Love For Always" 1992 which expressed her deep feelings of love, disappointment, and despair when her marriage did not work out; and finally Bus Girl, published by Brookline Books, Boston, Massachusetts in 1997. She gave a reading of Bus Girl at the Tattered Cover in 1997 to a packed audience and Bus Girl rose to number one on the local best seller list.

Gretchen loved country music and following her favorite country music singers. She attended Fan Fair in Nashville for many years. She knew almost all the artists, especially those with special needs children. Joe Diffie wrote an introduction to Bus Girl which included the following. "God bless Gretchen for her efforts and for helping people grasp the fact that people with Down syndrome can contribute to society in an artistic capacity as well as in the labor force, and that Down's people are just that... people."

Gretchen was an avid and in many ways a very accomplished photographer. She could see the world and people in a different way and light than most and could capture this in her many, many, many photographs. She also had the opportunity to meet James Earl Jones through her work during an exhibition in Denver called "Art and Soul".

Gretchen participated in many sports and loved competing in the Special Olympics in swimming. She was also a certified Scuba Diver and made many dives with her family in the Caribbean including the Cayman Islands, St Martin, and the British Virgin Islands. Her favorite dives were of wrecks---Including the Wreck of the Rhone. Gretchen loved knee boarding in Iowa and snow skiing in Colorado.

Gretchen lived independently in her own condominium for many years with the help of some personal assistants for mainly managing financial matters. For many years she traveled anywhere in Denver on the city bus system. As her health declined due to Alzheimer's disease she required more specialized care and she moved to assisted living. For the last five years she has received the most loving, competent, and understanding care from Carol Eiber and her staff, especially Tony and Nova, at Abundant Blessings and Care Eastman residential home.

Gretchen filled our lives and everyone she met with love, hope, and understanding. She cared about everyone, no matter how young or old, and had an insight about life and death that few will ever possess. She helped us all appreciate a person's abilities, not disabilities.

Gretchen gave us joy and love but her last gift to all of us was the donation of her brain for the advancement of research into the causes, treatment, and hopefully cure of Alzheimer's Disease because of its close association and incidence with Down Syndrome.

If you desire, Gretchen would welcome donations in her memory to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome for research in Alzheimer's Disease.
3300 East First Ave, Suite 390
Denver, Colorado 80206

A Memorial Service for Gretchen and Interment of Mom's and Gretchen's remains in a family monument will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at One O'clock in the afternoon at the Horan & McConaty Funeral Home on County Line and Holly street. A brief interment in the Memorial Gardens will follow the Chapel Service. Please join the family for a reception at the Club House at Georgetown Village afterwards.

Directions: Georgetown Village Townhomes are located
-Between Arapahoe Road and Orchard off of Holly.
-Going North on Holly from Horan & McConaty, take the first left turn North of Arapahoe Road.
-Then take the first right at the stop sign.
-The Club House is on the right. Parking is in the pool parking lot and on the street.
Address is 5539 East Weaver Drive, Centennial, CO 80121

Please share memories of Gretchen and condolences with her family by signing the guestbook below.


Heaven's Back Door

I like to remember
My childhood days

Taking my time
Slowly as always
I fumble around for the keys
To the back door
Of our house

Inside there is a fire
That shows love and tenderness
To the ones you love

There is sensitivity
To feelings
And no lack of trust

Back doors are for
Friends and family

I do hope to come through
Heaven's back door

By Gretchen L. Josephson
Aug 25, 1954---March 19, 2017

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Services

Reception following Interment
Club House at Georgetown Village
5339 E Weaver Dr.
Centennial, CO US 80121
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Service
Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122
Saturday, June 24, 2017
1:00 PM
Cemetery
Horan & McConaty Memorial Gardens
5303 East County Line Rd.
Centennial, CO US 80122
Saturday, June 24, 2017
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