Gretna passed quietly at her home in Harbor, Oregon surrounded by her family Feb. 25, 2018 after a three-and-a-half year battle with cancer.
She was born Feb. 11, 1943, in Lawrence, Kansas, to Clyde and Mary Braynard.
Gretna’s parents settled in Harbor in 1945 after a couple of years traveling around the Pacific Northwest looking for work. In 1946, little sister Donna joined the family. Around 1950 her parents started a lily farm near the California border.
She learned to drive a tractor at 8, considered herself to be the boy of the family and tried to lessen her father’s work any way she could.
She spent her elementary and middle school years at Brookings Elementary and St. Joseph’s Catholic school where she graduated eighth grade. She thought her calling was to be a nun but after only a short time at the convent in Iowa, she realized that was not the life for her. She decided to remain for her entire freshman year.
After returning to Oregon, she attended St. Mary’s High School in Medford, where she graduated in 1961.
After graduation Gretna moved to Salem where she worked at the credit bureau during the day and Meier and Frank in the evenings and Saturday. It was during this time that she met the love of her life, John Kleespies who was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. After a very brief courtship, John told everyone at the base they were getting married — two week later he asked Gretna. After waiting the six months required by their parents they were married Nov. 20, 1965 at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church, now “The Abbey,” in Brookings. They spent the next 12 years in Maywood, California, growing their family to include two boys and two girls.
In 1977, they moved their family to Harbor after John acquired a share in the Brookings plywood mill. Gretna was thrilled to be back in her hometown near her parents and sister. In 1979, she took a part-time position at Azalea Middle School as the ticket lady in the cafeteria, where she was known as “Mom” to many of the students.
In 1981 Gretna and John were surprised and thrilled to add another daughter to the family. In 1986, she left the position at Azalea Middle School to work full-=time at PayLess Drug Store as a cashier and backup bookkeeper and then as full-time bookkeeper. In 1996 Rite Aid bought out Payless and her job changed to working in the pharmacy where she remained until her retirement in 2006.
Gretna’s priority was her family but she also had other interests including being an active member of the Star of the Sea Catholic Church, and of the Altar Society where she served several terms as the president and other positions on the board. She was also the chairman of the Annual Harvest Dinner for many years, a traditional event her mother, Mary Braynard, helped found decades ago.
Gretna also worked alongside John while he participated in numerous Knights of Columbus events, including weekly bingo, monthly breakfasts and terms as the Grand Knight and District Deputy.
Gretna loved to bake and made many holiday favorites including saffron bread, fudge, angel cookies, bourbon balls, biscotti, apple cake and a multitude of cakes for events at the church.
Gretna also had a green thumb and loved plants. There were always African violets or Christmas cacti blooming somewhere in the house. She especially loved the princess plants in the front yard and the rhododendron bush that is as tall as the house.
Gretna was preceded in death by her parents Clyde and Mary Braynard and her husband of 48 years, John.
She is survived by her son Perry Kleespies (Kristy) of Brookings; daughter Lynette Kleespies of Roseburg; son Eric Kleespies of Brookings; daughter Kara Reed (Kevin) of Harbor; daughter Shannon Fowler (Jesse) of Albany; sister Donna Van Nest of Brookings; niece Brenda Frost of Eugene; grandchildren Brad, Melissa, Ryan, Kaylee, Steve, Jon and Alice; great-nephew and nieces, Allison, Carson, Olivia and one great granddaughter.
A funeral mass will be celebrated Saturday. Mar. 10, 2018, at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church at 820 Old County Road in Brookings, with a rosary preceding at 9:30 a.m. for those wishing to attend. A luncheon will be served following the service at the Star of the Sea Parish Hall next to the church.
Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at www. redwoodmemorial.net.