On August 13, 2020 in Oklahoma City, Gretchen E White Bartee, mother, sister and friend, passed peacefully from this world. Her family and friends were with her, present in all forms, to support her through this transition.
Born on July 14, 1943, Gretchen is the daughter of Albert Wynkoop White, Hattie Stoskopf White, and sister of Katrina. She loved growing up in Miami, Oklahoma, this Route 66 Main Street community, and graduated with the class of 1961 from Miami High School. This life allowed her to experience time with her Stoskopf grandparents on their cattle ranch and farm. Gretchen played the piano, had fun in Virginia Lee Wilson’s dance classes and recitals, swam like a fish, enjoyed golf and tennis, and walked almost everywhere she went until dragging Main captured the heart of all the teenagers. She read all the time. She became an excellent bridge player. Her faith was strengthened by her Presbyterian Church minister Don Kruithof. She created lasting friendships so important to her.
She attended Cottey College, Baker University, and received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Central State College in Edmond. At graduation, her father Al gifted her with a brand new 67 Mustang. She taught English in OKC Public Schools with a sensitivity toward the students often on the “fringe.” Her mind worked fast. She loved reading literature, stylistic prose and poetry, powerful expression and a good story. Other favorites included the film Grease, The Harry Potter Series, The Three Stooges, Roy Orbison, Peanuts cartoons, and anything that made her laugh. She was a unique person who had a great sense of humor, was outspoken, and not one to mince words. She loved spending time with her family and friends and made a point to support causes important to her.
Gretchen married Mark Perkins in 1971. Their son John Michael was born in 1974. After their divorce, Gretchen and Russ Bartee were married in 1978 and added a daughter Sarah Katrina to their family in 1979. The family enjoyed themselves at Hattie and Al’s home on Monkey Island, Grand Lake of the Cherokees. Throughout the years, Gretchen, Russ, Mark and his wife Darci have maintained a blended family, gathering for important family events and holidays. John’s family, with wife Micah and daughters Caroline and Claire, live in Broken Arrow, OK. Sarah’s family, with husband Ryan Hayward and their son Ian and daughter Laura, live in Oklahoma City, OK. Close members of the family are sister Katrina Graydon and husband Bruce of Fort Collins, CO. Gretchen and family enjoyed many happy visits here with friends in a town she loved.
Gretchen was a member of the congregation at Crown Heights United Methodist Church and United Life Church in Oklahoma City. In recent years, Gretchen and Russ have been fortunate to discover Mayflower Congregational Church and its kind and joyful congregation led with vision and inspiration. It was important to Gretchen to demonstrate kindness and compassion, helping clothe and feed the hungry. As a long-time friend of Bill W, Gretchen formed meaningful, sustaining friendships and found purpose in supporting others through their journey. Being near Sarah’s family in Oklahoma City, Gretchen took advantage of hands-on time with Sarah’s children. Along with Caroline and Claire they made her such a happy grandmother.
With the limitation of visitors due to the pandemic, the family is so grateful that Gretchen was transferred to hospice for comfort care her last few days where Russ and John could join Sarah in being with her. A memorial service for Gretchen will be held in the future at Mayflower UCC. At present, family will have a private gathering to honor her life. We grieve with all who cannot be together during this time. To honor Gretchen, donations may be made to the Mayflower Congregational Church Benevolence Fund, Mayflowerucc.org.