Victor John Gretzinger Jr. left this earth in the early hours of May 2, 2019. Victor died at home in the care of his step-family and friends. His death brings to an end a full and long life of more than 94 years. Vic, as his friends and colleagues called him, was born in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 1, 1924, to his parents, Victor John and Leonora Henrietta (Hunter) Gretzinger. He attended high schools in Memphis, Tenn., and San Francisco, before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, October 1944 with a degree in Civil Engineering. Victor enlisted in the Navy in July, 1942, attended officer training school (V-12) and served as an Ensign in the Pacific as a Seabee during WWII for which he earned WWII Victory, American Campaign and Asia Pacific medals.
Following the war, and at the time of his separation from the Navy, Victor listed living in Alaska as a goal. Victor returned to Berkeley in September 1946 to pursue his interest in art. Much of Victor’s life was spent in California in the “gold country” where he owned his own engineering businesses, including Weatherbee and Gretzinger, and Gretzinger & McMinn and Gretzinger Engineering. During this era, he was involved in many local community activities. Most notably, Vic was a prominent member of E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West, especially the history of the Mother Lode and gold mining regions of the area, and during his tenure was part of a group who dedicated a plaque in the city of Jackson to celebrate the world’s oldest profession. Victor joined others in his profession of civil engineering and worked as a surveyor and engineer with several firms in the states of California, Nevada, Alaska and Oregon. At the time of his death he held licenses in both Surveying and Engineering in the four states mentioned. He was also a Mason, belonged to the Elks, Eagles, Moose Lodge, and was a lifetime member of the VFW, and the NRA, to mention a few.
Victor spent his younger years in California, before he and his wife Eldon (Maxx) moved to Eagle River in 1981, so that he could continue his career with R&M consultants in Anchorage. When Victor retired from R&M, he and Eldon moved to Palmer, Alaska, where he served as the Director of Public Works until he retired from the City. Victor worked as a consultant until well into his late 80s.
Victor was not only a highly skilled engineer; he was also an artist and produced many watercolor paintings. But engineering and painting were not his only interests; Victor loved Dixieland jazz, flew airplanes, was interested in collecting antiques, the history of railroads, mining, water systems, leather tooling, gun and knife making and collecting. He attended and helped preside over gun shows in the Palmer and Eagle River areas for many years. Victor was an avid reader and public speaker; he loved history and explored all kinds of information on just about everything. He also loved the world and donated to many charities every year. His step-family will remember him for his stinky limburger cheese sandwiches, off-color jokes, great sense of humor, love of birds, squirrels and animals, and for his amazing enthusiasm and energy, even as his body began to fail him as he looked forward to his 95th year.
Victor was preceded in death by his parents, three of his children and his wife of 40 years, Eldon Marie (Maxwell) Gretzinger. Victor leaves behind three living children; Greta Gretzinger of Victor, Idaho; Eric Gretzinger who lives with his wife and children in Knob Noster, Missouri; and Victoria Edwards who lives with her family in Galt. He also leaves behind many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In addition to his biological family, he leaves others who loved him dearly for his jokes, sharp wit, great stories, knowledge of mechanical systems of all kinds and quiet love and support. These persons include Sidney and Sharon Maxwell of Chugiak, Alaska; Merry Maxwell of Palmer, Alaska; Karen Maxwell-Hooton of San Andreas, and their children and grandchildren who knew Victor as grandpa and gramps.
A formal military ceremony is tentatively planned for May of 2020 at Fort Richardson, just outside of Anchorage, Alaska, during which Victor will receive full military honors. Another small celebration of life will be held in the gold country of California during which Victor’s ashes will be distributed in the hill country he loved.