Gretchen Matthern

Gretchen Elise Matthern

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Gretchen Elise Matthern was born on October 21, 1960 to Robert Otto and Ruth Morgans Matthern in Chicago, Illinois. When Gretchen was 3, the family moved to Massachusetts. They lived in various places in the eastern United States, moving every 5 years on average during Gretchen's early life. Gretchen's only sister is Deborah Matthern, who her parents adopted when Gretchen was 5. Gretchen attended private Catholic schools through her primary education years, excelling in all her academic activities. Gretchen's family spent their vacations tent camping and hiking, creating in her a love for the outdoors.

Gretchen earned her Bachelor and Master degrees at the University of Oklahoma, and then went on to get her PhD at the University of Virginia in 1987. She was the first female graduate from UVA with a PhD in Chemical Engineering.

In 1988, Gretchen applied for and was offered a job at the Idaho National Laboratory. Two years later, she met and married the love of her life, John Walrath. The couple settled in New Sweden, where they offered a haven for many cats, dogs and even some exotic animals.

Gretchen loved Idaho's diverse seasons and reveled in camping, fishing, biking and cross country skiing. She served as a volunteer for the Nordic Ski Patrol at Harriman State Park. She also volunteered and was active with the Girl Scouts and at St Lukes Episcopal Church.

Gretchen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the spring of 2014. She underwent 2 cancer removal surgeries and over 6 years of chemotherapy. Her positive attitude was an inspiration to many.

She passed into larger life on August 25, 2020 after a sudden illness. She is preceded in death by her parents, and is survived by her sister Deborah Matthern, her husband John Walrath, 2 dogs, 8 cats and 2 turtles. Gretchen will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Please consider a donation in her memory to any of the following organizations: the Girl Scouts of America, Harriman State Park, St Lukes Episcopal Church, or Lucky’s Place (the Animal Humane Center of Starr Valley). Funeral Services are pending.
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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Gretchen
4 trees have been planted in memory of Gretchen Elise Matthern

Hikaru Hiruta

Posted at 01:08am
Please accept my condolences,

3 trees were planted in the memory of Gretchen Matthern

Plant a tree

Martin Grant

Posted at 05:58am
My name is Martin and, although I don’t know your family personally, please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your loved one. The Bible can offer great comfort in these difficult times. When Jesus was on earth he spoke about a wonderful time when we will see our dead loved ones again. This promise can be found at John 5:28,29. I hope you find comfort in these words. If you would like to learn more about the resurrection or the condition of the dead, please visit Once again I am so sorry for your loss.


Martin Grant
Paris, France

Shauna Hoiland

Posted at 06:14pm
I was so saddened to hear of Gretchen’s passing. I first met Gretchen in 1989 when I was hired at the INL. Although we never worked in the same organization, we worked on several projects together throughout the years. Gretchen always had a positive attitude! We celebrated our most recent project endeavors by eating lunch at the company cafeteria! Moments I will now cherish! I will, most definitely, miss our friendship. Sincerest condolences.

Sylvia Patel + Jay Patel + Jessica McCaughey

Posted at 09:45am
Our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss. We are thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Gretchen Matthern — Plant a Tree Now

Mohammad Roni

Posted at 01:59pm
I worked with Gretchen. She was a nice human being! She will be missed.

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