Gretchen A. Highlander, 86, of Columbus, NC passed away Sunday, December 16, 2018 at Tryon Estates Medical Center.
Gretchen was born to Edgar and Marguerite Habighorst in Marinette, WI, and grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan until she moved to Grand Rapids, MI at age 16. She graduated from Michigan State University and shortly thereafter married Ervin Kercher, pediatrician. After finishing his residency at University of Michigan, the couple moved to Kalamazoo, where they raised their four daughters. After Ervin died in 1966, Gretchen worked at the Upjohn Company, where she met Cy Highlander. Gretchen and Cy married and with Cy’s three children, our family grew to 9.
Gretchen was passionate about many hobbies and was known for her work on the USTA Tennis Championships in Kalamazoo, architectural drafting skills, amazing scene building using miniature figurines, and beautiful handcrafts, including stitchery wall hangings and sewn and knitted garments. She was also an active philanthropist, supporting several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Lake Union Crew Outreach Foundation and Doctors Without Borders.
Cy preceded Gretchen in death in 2009. She is survived by her sister, Nancy Sheldon, her four children and 3 step children, Nancy Kercher, Sally Kercher, Sarah Highlander, Ann Wunderlin, John Highlander, Nancy Ellefson, Elizabeth Williams; and seven grandchildren, Katie Ellefson, Leigh Wunderlin, Kristin Ellefson, Kyle Wunderlin, Megan Ellefson, Nicolas Williams, and Paige Highlander.
A private family service will be held in the spring of 2019 in Hendersonville, NC, where Gretchen and Cy’s ashes will be interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you please consider a donation to Habitat for Humanity.