Obituary for Grace E. Gentner
It was 5:00 a.m. on March 28, 1919, when George Kohn and his wife, Grace Haake Kohn welcomed the birth of Grace Eleanor Kohn into this world in North Collins New York. Grace entered our world as a 4 1/2 lb bundle of joy.
At the age of one, Grace started to walk, run, leap and jump, and she has never stopped. Grace attended school in a one room school house located on the other side of the road from her home, where her mother, Grace Haake Kohn taught all grades. Eventually she went to high school in Collins Center.
Grace Eleanor met her future husband, Maynard Salzler during a high school trip to Washington, D.C. when Union School Collins Center and Springville's Griffith Institute
made the joint excursion.
Grace Eleanor left North Collins in 1938 to attend Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned a degree in interior design. Her husband-to-be left Springville at the
same time to attend and play football under Coach Pop Warner at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In June of 1940, at the age of 22 years, Grace Eleanor and Maynard were engaged to be married, and their love led to the construction of their home Grace Eleanor designed
and Maynard (and his brothers) built at 118 South Central Avenue, Springville, NY.
On October 25, 1941, about the time their home was being completed, Grace Eleanor Kohn married Maynard Joseph Salzler. Grace Eleanor took a job at Kronenberg’s
department store in Hamburg, as a buyer.
In 1945, Nancy became the first born to Maynard and Grace Eleanor. In 1948, Barbara became the second born and in 1950, Dan became the third and final off-spring of the
Maynard and Grace Eleanor family. In 1950, Grace Eleanor's father, George broke his leg and soon realized his farm days were over. Grace Eleanor's younger brother, Calvin,
took over the operations of the farm. Grace Eleanor's mother and father moved into a home five houses north of Maynard and Grace Eleanor's home, on S. Central Avenue.
George and Grace made their mark on Nancy, Barb and Dan as baby sitters and as a source of the basics of life education (and cookies).
In May of 1958, Grace Eleanor lost the love of her life. Maynard passed away from a heart attack suffered in their back yard. There were many tough years for Grace
Eleanor, being a single parent, supporting Nancy, and later Barb and Dan as they went off to college. It was at this time that she took on the challenge of running for office and
became Town Clerk for the town of Concord, a position she held for 28 years.
In 1963, Grace Eleanor became reacquainted with Raymond Gentner, a local farmer and owner of Gentner Livestock Commission Market. In 1964, Grace Eleanor and
Raymond were married in a ceremony at St. Aloysius Church, Springville, NY.
In 2007, during Grace Eleanor's 88th birthday celebration, she was photographed lifting dumbbell weights in her pink sweat suit. Later that same year, Dan flew in from Arizona
to be with family as the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce presented our mom the 2007 Citizen of the year for the second time. It was a proud moment for all of our
family. The event brought back the memories of our mother sitting at her desk in the den office, at all hours of the night writing fishing or hunting licenses for those who
waited until the last minute, but had to have their license. She loved every moment she served as a public servant to the people she loved, the people of Springville and the
Town of Concord.
In February 2008, Grace Eleanor's name was added to the U.S. Congressional Record. The entry reads as follows:
As one of western New York’s outstanding citizens, Grace Gentner is a role model for Americans. Grace’s kind spirit and dedication to helping others has made her community
a better place. Grace has spent countless hours volunteering at several organizations in the Springville area as well as serving as a leader in the community. Due to her
commitment to community service Grace was honored with this year’s Citizen of the Year award by the Springville Chamber of Commerce. Among the many service organizations Grace spends most of her time contributing to the Historical Society, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, Springville Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels and she served as an Extraordinary Minister at St. Aloysius Catholic Church. In addition, Grace has been an elected leader by serving many years as Town Clerk and tax collector for the Town of Concord as well as president of the Senior Citizens. As someone who has blessed me with her friendship I am fortunate to have been a beneficiary of Grace’s wisdom, counsel and guidance. I am pleased that her hard work helping people has been recognized by the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. Representative, Thomas Reynolds
Grace Eleanor also served for years as the Chairwoman for "Trash and Treasures," a fund raiser for Bertrand Chaffee Hospital. It was asked of Grace, "How many
committees do you chair or co-chair?" She thought for a moment and then said, "17." Grace then began to name all of the committees. On September 19, 2008, mom and children met in South Lake Tahoe, California for the wedding of Dan's son, Scott, to Claudia Johnson. Before flying back to Western New York, Mom enjoyed visiting the Reno, Nevada National Automobile Museum that is now the home of the around-the-world, "Great Race" winner, the Thomas Flyer, built in Buffalo, New York. It was driven by Springville resident, Mr. George Schuster. Our mom's pride in Springville, knew no boundaries. !
Evidently Grace inherited a “travel gene” or “itchy feet” from her mother. Grace loved to travel and we figured she had a packed suitcase under her bed! In addition to trips for
family weddings she visited some unusual places like Afghanistan, Iran, India, China, Kenya, Ethiopia, England, Mexico, Costa Rica, Iceland, the Arctic Circle, Fiji,
Australia plus many of the States and Canadian provinces. When she went to Iran (before the coup) her plane was met by the governor carrying dozens of red roses
and a red carpet, stretched from the plane to a vehicle. She was separated from her tour and whisked away in a limo to experience some of the palaces of the governors of
Iran. She had befriended them when they came to the states to learn about infrastructure in small towns. They came to Springville where Grace showed them the
power plant and sewage treatment facilities. When they learned Grace was coming to Iran they truly “rolled out the red carpet” for her.
On Grace Eleanor's 90th birthday celebration, Nancy and Barb and families were present. Dan was in Arizona, waiting for mom to open one special present that was two
years in the making. But first, mom had to finish mowing the lawn on her garden tractor. Once she was inside and telephone connections were secured that mom opened her
90th birthday gift from Dan. It was a photo book, created just for her, entitled "A Graceful Journey- Grace Eleanor Kohn Salzler Gentner, March 28, 191 to March 28, 2009." Grace talked about that book for a long time and you can see it on the table near-by.
That book now serves as a reminder of the farm girl, turned buyer for a department store, a home designer, a wife, a mother, a politician and an advocate volunteer for so
many organizations across the fabric that makes up the Town of Concord and the Village of Springville. Grace is survived by children Nancy Hessler, Barbara Craft (Larry Craft), and Daniel Salzler; grandchildren Matt Hessler, BJ Hessler, Laura Craft Metallo (Tom Metallo), Jeff Craft, Karyn Craft, Scott Salzler (Claudia Salzler); great grandchildren Cole Metallo. Amelia Salzler, Mallory Salzler and Evan Drew Salzler.
On behalf of Nancy, Barbara and Dan, we wish to express our gratitude for being there with our mom, when the moment was right for celebration, deliberation and consultation.
Springville became the life blood of our mother. It seemed to us that with every breath she inhaled, she could smell another cause or purpose to be involved to "help out." Our
thanks to all of you for your support of our mother and for honoring her, with your presence, thoughts and prayers. We ask God to bless us in the same manner that
Grace Eleanor Kohn Salzler Gentner blessed all with whom she came in contact.