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David Joseph Gretkowski
Burlington - David Joseph Gretkowski passed away peacefully on August 5, 2018 at home, surrounded by his adoring wife following a courageous seventeen-month battle with glioblastoma. David left this world and his beloved wife Stefanie, his family, and his countless friends far too soon.
David was born on May 9, 1964 in Burlington, VT to Henry and Elizabeth (McSweeney) Gretkowski. The second of four brothers, he quickly learned to run fast and throw long. Growing up on Pleasant Avenue and Starr Farm Beach along the shores of Lake Champlain, David's childhood was a tumble of cousins, neighbors, stingray bikes and kick-the-can. Always picked first for any team, "Hawk" had extraordinary athleticism and natural leadership skills.
David graduated from Rice High school and attended Bridgton Academy for a post graduate year. He graduated from Saint Michael's College where he earned a degree in business management and played on the golf team. David's love for golf inspired his move to Florida soon after college where he worked at the PGA National Golf Club. He later caddied on the PGA tour where he developed life-long friendships with several caddies and players. Upon his return to Vermont, David, following in his father's footsteps, began his career in the pharmaceutical industry. His genuineness and kindness earned him the admiration of his competitors and the love and affection of his customers.
When David was 24, he received the Carnegie Medal for his heroic rescue of a teenage girl and her dog who were trapped under their capsized sail boat in frigid choppy water off of Valcour Island. This award is given to "individuals who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others."
David waited a long time to meet the love of his life and he married Stefanie (Christoffel) on June 22, 2002. Stefanie was the best thing that ever happened to David and he was extremely proud of her. Their marriage was one of laughter, love and respect. The tenderness and care they gave to each other during David's illness was the purest expression of their love.
Despite all of David's accomplishments, he was best known for his humility, his playfulness and humor, and his deep connections to his extended family and friends. Chatting over a cold beer at the Trout Club or playing poker at deer and duck camp, David made things fun. He frequently "checked his traps" with a call or visit. He had an endearing nickname for everyone. To an older neighbor, or to the clerk at the store, David was more than an acquaintance; he was considered by many to be a close personal friend. David never hesitated to check-in and to show up. He took the idea of community connections to another level. He always seemed to know what to do in some of our hardest moments. He once showed up with 14 pizzas to a family in shock and mourning; he said he couldn't decide on toppings so he went with one of each. David's remarkable capacity to love and to be loved is perhaps his greatest legacy.
David had a special relationship with his late uncle Father John McSweeney, his mentor and travel partner throughout Vermont and Ireland. Going "up the line" with David was always an adventure and made for a good story at the end. David loved to travel and he and Stefanie made several trips to Ireland together and have lasting friendships from many a pub or golf course.
David was deeply proud of his nieces and nephews and he and Stefanie were a steady and consistent presence in their lives especially at their games and tournaments. His fun-loving and compassionate example has given each of them a foundation on which to grow. A loyal and loving son, David was devoted son-in-law. He is one of 31first cousins and there isn't one who wouldn't count him as their very favorite. His ability to know and really see the good in people was such a gift to us all.
David is survived his wife and his parents, his brothers and sisters-in-law, Michael and Rosemary (Hull) Gretkowski; Steve and Debbie (Denton) Gretkowski, John and Kristin (Kirkpatrick) Gretkowski; Stefanie's parents Bob and Carol Christoffel, and Stefanie's sister Jennifer Christoffel McGrath, his niece Allie Gretkowski and nephews Wesley and Casey Gretkowski, and Conner, Seamus and Kiefer McGrath.
The family would like to thank everyone who supported them during these difficult months. The list is long and spans several states. A special thank you to David's great medical team; Dr. Alissa Thomas and everyone at the Oncology Department at UVM, the Duke Medical team and rehabilitation program.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at the Chapel of Saint Michael Archangel, Saint Michael's College, 420 College Parkway, Colchester, Vermont on Monday, August 13, 2018 at 11:00 am.
Visiting hours will be held at the Chapel at Saint Michael's College on Sunday, August 12, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in David's memory to VNA Hospice Chittenden County (vnacares.org) 1110 Prim Road, Colchester, Vt 05446 and/or Not Today Brain Cancer (nottodaybraincancer,org) or at NotToday 466Midland Little Rock, AR 72205