April 9, 1942—September 8, 2021
Renate Groth passed peacefully in her sleep Wednesday, Sept 8th, 2021, in Poway, California where she recently moved to be near her family. Renate was a quiet, kind woman whose life is a testimony to her beautiful spirit, family, friends, teachers, pets, English as a Second Language, music, education, an enduring faith, and her delight in others.
Born in Danzig, Germany, (now Gdansk, Poland) in 1942 while the city was occupied by Nazi Germany, Renate, her brother Peter and mother fled by boxcar with fellow Germans when the Soviet Army invaded in 1944. Her mother passed in the hardships of this time and the children were raised by their beloved Aunt Hedwig. After the war they reunited with their father and came to the United States as refugees to escape communism and were sponsored by a Los Angeles family and local Methodist church. It was not an easy time to be a German speaking child starting school; she was often taunted by children but remembers being protected by loving teachers. She joined the Monterey Park Girls Drum and Bugle Corps where she found her first of many “family of friends.” This group of teenage young women traveled the Southwest marching in parades and winning more than 500 trophies. Along with drills, discipline, travel, friendship, and laughter she learned to be independent and self-sufficient.
Renate graduated from California State University-Los Angeles with a BA in Education and attended the University of Washington. She taught PE, then found she enjoyed her role as an Administrative Specialist at the University of Washington, retiring from the UW School of Medicine Neurosurgical Department where she especially liked working with new residents.
Highlights of Renate’s PNW life: finding Vashon, building her home, being in the Vashon Chorale, adopting pets from VIPP, attending the Methodist and Episcopal churches, and singing for thirty years in the Gesangverein Arion German Choir of Seattle where she met Helga Caldwell and her family who remained lifelong friends. She also treasured friends from commuting on the bus to Seattle, her Gold Beach neighborhood and the Vashon Roasterie porch.
After retiring, Renate made a personal dream come true! She volunteered at Granny’s Attic while being an English as a Second Language tutor at Seattle Central Community College and then, at age sixty-nine, became a Peace Corp Volunteer in Rustavi, Republic of Georgia, teaching English in the local school. Among her many accomplishments was securing grants for athletic equipment for intramural sports programs and a complete renovation of the school library to provide current books and a computer for the students.
Renate lived at the Vashon Community Care Center for the last three years of her life and delighted in her new “family of friends’ ’ of staff and residents and the Music Mends Minds program. Predeceased by her parents, aunt, and brother Peter, she is survived by her nephew, Hans Groth (Heather) and children, and her sister-in-law, Judi Groth Sanacore in California; all who were with her in her final days. She is also survived by her niece Heidi Groth, cousins in Germany and the many people whose lives she touched in California, Seattle, Vashon Island and the Republic of Georgia.
Remembrances may be made to VIPP, Music Mends Minds or Granny’s Attic. Please share memories to be compiled for her family and friends with Bev McCullough firstname.lastname@example.org. A public celebration of life will be held on Vashon in 2022.
Renate’s words to live by: “People will forget what you say, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Thank you, God, for Maya Angelou and Renate Groth.