Gretchen Ramona Walker Jones of Jennersville

Gretchen Ramona Walker Jones, of Jennersville, died Sunday, Dec. 27, from complications of progressive supranuclear palsy. She was 86.

Gretchen Ramona Walker Jones

Gretchen was born in Plain City, Ohio to Grace Headlee Walker and Holly Walker, a banker and civic leader. The third of five children, Gretchen was an outstanding student and athlete. As a child, she could be found playing basketball with the boys, gardening with her dad, riding her beloved pony, Billy, and catching fish, frogs, and turtles with her cousins. She played drums in the high school band and participated in all aspects of small-town life.

Gretchen attended The Ohio State University in nearby Columbus and graduated in 1956. She majored in physical education and competed in intercollegiate basketball. She was elected to Mortar Board, the senior women’s honorary society at Ohio State. During her senior year, she met her future husband, Allan Jones, on a blind date, and they married after his graduation in 1957. In 1964, after Allan’s military service and graduate studies, he accepted a job with the DuPont Company and they settled in Wilmington.

By that time, the family had grown, with Carolyn, born in 1960, and Steve, in 1962.

As a young mother, Gretchen focused on homemaking, and she became an accomplished seamstress, cook, and hostess. She loved hosting dinner parties and bridge nights with friends, and she enjoyed spending time at the family’s mountain cabin at Coolfont, near Berkeley Springs, WVa. She was active in the Episcopal Church as a choir member and church leader, and she was an enthusiastic volunteer for many causes, including supporting daycare centers in downtown Wilmington, volunteering for the American Cancer Society, in Wilmington hospitals, and counseling troubled girls at Woods Haven Kruse School.

In 1975, Gretchen returned to college as a full-time nursing student at the University of Delaware. During her senior year, she visited a hospice in Sheffield, England, one of the first in the world, and this experience had a profound impact on the direction of her career. After she graduated in 1978, Gretchen worked as an oncology nurse at the Wilmington Medical Center and was instrumental in working with the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware to create Delaware Hospice in 1982. It was one of the first hospice programs in the United States.

Gretchen’s work as a patient care coordinator with Delaware Hospice led her to pursue a master’s degree in nursing. After obtaining her degree in 1990, Gretchen co-founded and directed the Delaware Cancer Pain Initiative. She was a pioneer in the movement to give patients with cancer more control over the management of their pain. In 2001, she also co-founded the Cancer Care Connection, which was a community-based clearinghouse for up-to-date information about cancer treatment and care. In 2002, she was awarded the American Alliance of Cancer Pain Initiatives Distinguished Service Award.

Gretchen was a devoted and proud wife, mother, and grandmother. She loved gatherings of family and friends and any occasion to cook, tell stories, and laugh. Later in life, she cherished traveling with Al, and she doted on her grandchildren near and far, attending as many grandparents’ days, recitals, swim meets, games, and plays as possible. She also regularly sent small packages and notes of encouragement to those in her orbit who were suffering or sad.

Gretchen is survived by her husband of 63 years, Allan Jones, of Jennersville, daughter Carolyn Hendrix (Bill), of Port Deposit, Md., son Steve Jones (Sara Dougherty-Jones), of Arlington, Va., and four grandchildren (Katelyn and Erin Hendrix, and Andrew and Ella Jones). She was predeceased by her brother Alvin Walker and sister Marynell Graber, and she is survived by her brothers Ross Walker, of Dublin, Ohio, and Chris Walker, of Columbus, Ohio.

A virtual celebration of Gretchen’s life will be held at a date and time to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to CurePSP, Inc., www.psp.org.

To view her online tribute and to share a memory with her family, please visit www.kuzoandfoulkfh.com

Arrangements by the Foulk Funeral Home, West Grove.

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