Linda Jeanne Gillenwater lost her epic battle with cancer December 21, 2020. Linda is survived by her spouse, Steve Gillenwater, her love of a lifetime; her children, Laurie Brethauer, Stephanie Naegle-Alford, Denise Denslow, and Paul Gillenwater; her seven grandchildren, Jacob, Jenna, Kelsey, Ella, Ava, Grey, and Evy. Linda was born May 31, 1947 in San Diego, CA. She had an older brother, Warren Goedert, whom she loved dearly. Warren passed in 2016. Linda was an adored and loving spouse, an amazing, supportive, loving mother, and she was the light of her grandchildren’s lives as they were the light of hers. Linda was also an extraordinary friend. Linda’s faith provided her comfort and she believed she would be back in the company of those she had lost upon her death.
Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. She met cancer fearlessly and took aggressive measures, including a double mastectomy, and as a result had many years of life in remission which she never took for granted. Linda’s cancer returned in 2014, and ultimately took her life. She was a fighter and was never afraid to look cancer straight in the eye. Linda was selfless, kind, gallant, and scrappy. Not only did she view the world through rose-colored glasses, she brought out this capacity in others. Linda never met a stranger because she had an amazing ability to make friends wherever she went. She was fun and full of joy and life, always willing to help those in need without a second thought, and willing to tell you where to go when she felt it was necessary. She loved her family and friends completely.
Linda was an adventurous traveler, and with Steve by her side, she traveled throughout the United States and Canada. She had a fervent love for the ocean and pictures or sounds of water would immediately take her to a place of peace and tranquility. In more recent years, Linda became involved with the Episcopal church. She helped with their outreach program, fed the homeless and assisted in any way the church needed her to do. Linda was a lover of dogs and cats, and always had them by her side. Her dogs Bogey and Maggie provided great comfort to Linda in her time of suffering. She was an all-around exceptional human being and she is and will be truly missed by her family and friends.
Linda was an accomplished seamstress and a gourmet cook, and could make more kinds of cheesecake than one could ever imagine! Ehen her daughters were small, she made most of their clothing which were beautiful and of high quality. When the children were young she made bread weekly and could always be counted on for cookies, cakes, or pies. With time, her cooking skills increased and many considered her a gourmet chef. Rarely a day passed when she was not searching for new recipes to please her family and friends. Linda also loved to clean and vacuum, and was often found buzzing about with a happy whistle as she puttered in her home.
Linda was a nurse until she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. She then opened and ran a successful business, 4 Corners Drug Testing, which she sold in the late 90’s after successfully opening and operating three offices. She worked in numerous hospitals in her lifetime, and met Steve while treating him for a kidney stone at Rose De Lima Hospital in Nevada in 1972. Steve and Linda married August 27, 1975. They led an adventurous life, having brought three daughters to a cabin in Big Creek, ID in 1977, where Steve taught the children of all ages in a one room “school” and Linda was a nurse for the community. After settling in Cortez, CO in 1978, Linda raised four kids while being a full-time nurse at the hospital and later at one of the main medical offices in Cortez.
Linda loved to hike, camp, and travel. She could fir three dogs, four children, herself and Steve into a Mazda hatchback for a camping trip. She was not afraid to live her life and did not let others tell her how to do it. She taught her children to be self-reliant, independent thinkers, and well- rounded individuals. All of her children went on to earn college degrees and become successful both professionally and personally. Linda embraced her children’s friends and often had several of them along on her adventures. She maintained lifelong relationships with many of them and their children. Linda once commented that she had found her purpose in life when she met her grandchildren. She was a large piece of their lives and had deep connections with each of them. She spent time teaching them how to cook, reading and playing with them as well as joining them on their adventures. She was their cheerleader and their soft place to fall.
Linda touched the lives of many people and will be missed immeasurably.