Meet Carlton Senior Living spotlight resident, Greta Heinemeier – Greta was born February 19, 1935 in Anna, Illinois, a small town about 120 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri near the Mississippi River. Her father was a Lutheran minister and held his first congregation in Anna. Greta had one brother, four years older than her, who she describes as “incredibly smart and a Navy man.”
The family eventually moved to Evansville, Indiana, where her father continued his services to the Lutheran church. He, unfortunately, lost his ability to speak and the family again relocated to St. Louis, where he could work in the headquarters for the church.
At the age of eight, Greta suddenly developed a stutter when she spoke. It affected her schooling to an extent—before her elementary school graduation she was told that she would have been the primary speaker for the event if it hadn’t been for her stutter. She didn’t let this stop her from becoming involved in other activities; she loved playing sports like basketball and softball.
Greta graduated from high school in 1953 and then attended Valparaiso University, a Lutheran college in Indiana. She graduated in 1957 with a degree in social work. She met and married a Lutheran minister, James. They moved to Connecticut and had two children while living there. Greta helped and taught in the church and in kindergarten classes. She recalls that when she sang, she never once stuttered!
Their family then moved to Detroit, where James was a pastor. Greta remembers witnessing the cultural and social changes occurring at the time. Violence in the area sometimes necessitated that the church become the “grocery store” for the neighborhood, as businesses were afraid or unable to open.
Her husband was recommended for a job in Northern California so their family moved once again to the community of Foster City, in the Bay Area. Greta applied for and got a job as a social worker in a continuing care facility in Cupertino. She absolutely loved the senior citizens she got to work for and befriend. She especially loved hearing their stories about their lives. Greta retired after 20 years in Cupertino.
When she was 60 years old, Greta’s stuttering suddenly stopped. A close friend asked her how that had happened, and she simply replied, “I just got tired of it!”
Greta raised two children, Kristin and Tom, and has two wonderful grandsons, Peter and Benjamin. Greta enjoys sing-a-longs and entertainment here at Carlton Senior Living Davis. She also enjoys being able to associate with so many residents and staff. The things she likes most about the community are the food, privacy, and musical entertainment.
Greta jokes that she loves the “terrible shoes” she wears! They’re 15 years old, but they’re comfortable and supportive for her peripheral neuropathy. She’s proud of how long they’ve lasted!
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Written by Eric Demuth