Grace Gentner

By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back at some of the women who should be remembered, let’s see if you can guess who this is …

She started to walk at the age of one, worked at Kronenberg’s department store as a buyer, had three children, signed many a fishing, hunting and wedding license, volunteered at just about every organization and event held in Springville, hosted teas … have you guessed yet?

Why, Grace Gentner! In her 98 years she accomplished and did so much for our community before her passing in September 2017.

Grace’s first husband was Maynard “Tubby” Salzler, who played football under Coach Pop Warner at the Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1941, they were married and moved into a house they designed on South Central Avenue.

Three children soon followed: Nancy in 1945, Barbara in 1948 and Dan in 1950. In 1958, while in their backyard, Maynard had a heart attack and died. Now a single parent, Grace took the challenge of running for and becoming town clerk for the Town of Concord — a job she held for 28 years!

In 1964, Grace married Raymond Gentner, owner of the Gentner Livestock Commission Market. You know the one, it still goes on every Wednesday in Springville where you can get fresh vegetables, fruit, plants, odds-and-ends of every kind, animals, of course, and oh, so much more! Stop by sometime! But back to Grace Gentner.

In 2008, she was awarded Outstanding Citizen. By then, her dedication for helping others as well as her community earned her Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. Some — just some — of the ways she volunteered included: the Concord Historical Society; Bertrand Chaffee Hospital; Springville Food Pantry; Meals on Wheels; extraordinary minister at St. Aloysius Church; president of the Senior Citizens; chairwoman for the “trash and treasures,” a fundraiser for the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital; and, well, 17 other committees — plus her 28 years as town clerk and tax collector!

Grace inherited a “travel gene” from her mom, Grace Haake Kohn, who lived to be 106 years old and enjoyed traveling. Grace Gentner got to visit places like Afghanistan, Iran, India, China, Kenya, Ethiopia, England, Mexico, Costa Rica, Iceland, the Arctic Circle, Fiji and Australia, plus all through the United States and Canada. She loved to go to places she had not been to, and was teased that she had a packed suitcase under her bed so she could leave at a moment’s notice.

At the Historical Society, we are blessed with many special treasures Grace and her family have donated to us. I remember her the most for giving teas in the yard of the Pop Warner Museum and dressing up not only the tables but herself as well. Oh, the hats she had — and now the Historical Society has — and being able to set up the displays in her barn with her guidance and directions. We all had fun painting the walls and arranging the props to get the best arrangement. Grace helped us with so many displays. She also kept scrapbooks during her years as town clerk — as well as her travel scrapbooks — that we now have.

How many of us have accomplished just half of what Grace has done? She was dedicated to supporting groups and organizations that she believed in. She was a driving force for groups and for getting and organizing the volunteers for them.

When I think of the people who help to make the Village of Springville what it is today, I thank Grace Gentner. When I met her 30 years ago when I moved up here, I learned from her — about everything from planting a rose bush, to the history of the town, to what groups I should volunteer for, to walking with me and leaving me in the dust! I would like to think that my love and drive for the Historical Society that I have is because of her.

She is a woman that should be honored this month and always!