A Tribute to Gretchen Andeel from Jeanine Phillips
July 4, 2023 – My personal tribute to Gretchen Andeel, my ‘bestie,’ who will be dearly missed by hundreds, but especially by me.
My journey into the world of dyslexia began in 1991. It involved my young son, Cooper (6 years old), my husband, and Gretchen & Stan Andeel. Never was there a greater force of nature than this fabulous five. I will forever appreciate the advice, consultation, encouragement, legal advice and financial support that Gretchen and Stan provided to Phillips Fundamental Learning Center and to my family over the course of the past 23 years!
July 4 will always be a day to honor the remarkable lives of many Americans who made America what it is today, and will now include the moment my dear friend and comrade, who walked beside me through my professional life, finally said, “Lord, I can’t go on!” As I reflect on the remarkable life of Gretchen Andeel, I want to share first of all she was the woman who changed my life, and most importantly my child’s life. With her remarkable intelligence, passion and perseverance, she changed hundreds and thousands of children’s lives who are dyslexic in the Great State of Kansas, and will continue to change millions of children’s lives across the nation.
I am truly functioning as half a human, as Gretchen was my better half. She always had an answer or advice when I was at the end of my rope. For the past six years, I knew that Gretchen’s diagnosis would eventually take her life, but she fooled me as she just kept on going. She never let anyone acknowledge that her time on this planet was limited. She always had time to meet me for lunch, listening to me rant on, always providing profound advice.
Gretchen and my path collided the year my son was diagnosed as profoundly dyslexic in Wichita, Kansas. Luckily for me, Gretchen had
researched and explored dyslexia for her daughter, Katie, searching out answers across the country 10 years ahead of my quest; thank God.
So, you can only imagine the enlightenment, fun, frustrations, celebrations, heartbreaking and joyful moments we had together as Co-Founders of Fundamental Learning Center. Gretchen was my educator, cheerleader, mentor and writer who made it all work.
Gretchen - I want to share some of the sentiments that people are sending to me, most of them frequently repeated. You are so dearly loved!
“Your brave soul lives on in all you’ve accomplished. I can’t imagine a world without Gretchen. She meant the world to me. She is everywhere, in every family member she loved and cherished, and every student she taught. We are better off because of her. Gretchen’s passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts. This is a loss to the entire PFLC family. She was a beautiful warrior (I really love this description, Gretchen) and will be missed. She was so beloved. She discovered a better way for our kids. A stellar human being, a role model for family and community.”
And these comments are just the beginning.
My dear sweet friend, God Speed!