Renee Reinhardt Gustafson died June 12, 2018 at her residence on Bainbridge Island, with her daughter at her side. She was 89 years old.
Renee was born in Walla Walla in 1929 to Meta Anna Grosgebauer Reinhardt and Louie Lane Reinhardt.
She grew up in various Eastern Washington towns, including Spokane and Cheney.
While working as a telephone operator she met and married the love of her life, David Gustafson, who had just graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla. They moved first to Seattle and then to David’s family waterfront beach cabin in Lemolo, near Poulsbo, where they raised three children: Jeff, Susan and Brian.
Once her children were all in school, Renee worked part-time for the North Kitsap School District as a teacher’s aide, then district secretary and substitute coordinator, and for many years she was a dedicated March of Dimes volunteer.
Once her children were raised, she worked for the district court in Poulsbo, while continuing to enthusiastically organize her family’s and friends’ social lives with dinner parties, large family potlucks, and trips to places such as Mexico and Europe.
She was a fabulous cook, an avid reader, a devoted gardener, and loved to walk, putting in several miles most days.
The first time Renee saw the ocean, in 1950, she said, “This is where I belong,” and relishing her new life as a western Washingtonian, made ocean-going trips part of the family’s life. Camping at the ocean was the usual family vacation, and eventually she and David built a cabin near the ocean on the Sol Duc River where they spent many happy times with family and friends. Even after the cabin was sold, she savored any visit to the ocean where she always felt most connected to the earth.
After David died in 2004, she sold the family home and moved to a lovely Winslow cottage on Bainbridge Island to be nearer to her daughter. In 2013, realizing her brain was not as sharp as it used to be, she boldly took the initiative to move herself to assisted living at Madison Avenue House in Winslow, and three years later moved to memory care at Madrona House several blocks away, where she lived her last two years.
She is survived by her three children, Jeff (Cathy) of Tiburon, California; Susan (Casey) of Bainbridge Island; and Brian (Denice) of Indianola; and five grandchildren: August, Jessie, Max, Leah and Rachael. She is also survived by her step-brother, Bob Goldner (Becky), of Rathdrum, Idaho. She is remembered by all with great love and respect.
A small family memorial will be held at the ocean later this summer. Donations in remembrance of Renee may be made to our local library.