Gertrude Regina Bitter, having had a “life well lived” for 94 years, died with grace, gratitude, and faith in the Christian hope of a heavenly home on Friday May 4, 2018.
The daughter of Gertrude Regina Jungen and John Jacob Jungen, Gertrude was born in Manhattan, New York on January 26, 1924. While growing up in the Bronx with her younger brother John J. Jungen, Gertrude enjoyed equestrian activities and becoming an exceptional classical pianist. At the young age of 15, she was the organist at her local church. At 16, she auditioned on the piano in Carnegie Hall before the longtime Conductor/Director of the New York Philharmonic Symphony, Walter Damrosch.
Gertrude graduated from the Evander Childs High School in the Bronx and furthered her education at the Rhodes Business School in New York City.
Although she did not continue on the path to be a classical pianist, it was while Gertrude was playing the piano at the USO during World War II that she met and fell in love with a young sailor who for 71 years would be the love of her life.
Together, she and Melvin were blessed with six children, including two sets of twins.
After Melvin became an ordained minister, Gertrude blessed others with her gift of music, playing pianos and organs in Lutheran, Congregational, and Methodist churches throughout the United States. She had fond memories of playing the piano when her daughter Regina, an especially gifted vocalist, sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Bless This House” in the First Congregational Church of North Brookfield, Mass.
Along with her duties as loving mother and talented church musician, Gertrude somehow found time to work in the Administration offices of San Diego State University in California and Clark University in Massachusetts.
Although she was a city girl, she joined Melvin in his love for adventure and the outdoors. They sailed their boat ‘Windborne” in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. They motorcycled through the countryside of New England, Arkansas, and Florida. She adventured forward with Melvin when he felt the call to missionary service in the Truk Islands. Their love of camping brought them to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and to their home of the last 25 years in Hayesville.
In so many ways, Gertrude lived a life of humility and service. Never calling attention to herself, she found special joy in celebrating the accomplishments of others.
Along with her parents and brother, Gertrude was preceded in death by her husband Melvin and daughters Regina and Christine. She is survived by her sons Paul (Martha McAfee), John (Mary Johnson), and Mark (whose live-in support was of immeasurable help); and daughter Pam (Cliff Obertuck), along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from10-10:45 a.m., Monday, May 7 at the Townson-Rose Funeral Home Chapel of Hayesville.
A graveside service will follow celebrating Gertrude’s life and witness to the faith at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Murphy. Rev. Paul Bitter will officiate.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the charity of your choice. The family wishes to express their thanks to the wonderful caregivers from Four Season Hospice.
Townson-Rose Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
You may send tributes to the family at www.mem.com