Gretchen Ruth Marks

Beloved wife, mother, and teacher, Gretchen Ruth Marks, passed away Friday September 28, 2018 in St. Louis University Hospital.

Gretchen grew up in Marion, IL and moved to West Frankfort fourteen years ago, after securing her dream job of becoming an educator. Gretchen’s unwavering positivity and energy made her classroom one where every child felt special and knew they were loved. Learning was an adventure and her students were always eager to see how Gretchen prepared for her lessons, holidays and big events, with costumes, stories, music and creativity beyond measure. Her desire to give every child the best experience possible was ever present.

Gretchen’s beautiful twin girls, along with her husband Joseph, were the loves’ of her life. She loved reading and singing to her girls, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, coloring and crafting. She waited for them, daily, to arrive from school so she could hear all about their day.

Gretchen was one of a kind. Her infectious smile, wit, and beat to her own drum style, set her apart from anyone else. Gretchen walked on her tippy toes which suited her bigger than life demeanor and personality. She knew no stranger and no challenge was too big.

Gretchen loved fiercely and with deep conviction. When she met her husband, Joseph, she knew quickly she would marry and share their life together. They shared eleven wonderful years of marriage. Their bond would bring two souls together, to make a loving family and that family would become the center of her universe.

Gretchen was the proud daughter of Rich and Linda Howard. Throughout Gretchen’s life, she was adorned with unconditional love and support. They shared in her many accomplishments, admired her work and treasured their grandchildren. Gretchen was raised with her brother, Ted who was her friend and partner in crime; siblings and buddies through thick and thin.

Gretchen graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education. She furthered her studies and earned a Master’s of Art in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Greenville University.

Gretchen is survived by her husband, Joseph, daughters Abby and Lily, from West Frankfort. Her mother and father, Richard and Linda Howard; Brother Ted and Shandra Howard and their children Alexis, Dustin, Bryson, and Canaan, all from Marion. Grandma and Grandpa, Bob and Louise Howard from West Frankfort; mother and father in law Loren and Barbara Marks; brother in laws Ed and Lori Marks and their children James and Jonathon and Jeff and Stacy Marks and their children Kelly and Jessica from West Frankfort. Uncle and Aunt Lenny and Claudia Quarta, cousins Kevin, Scott and Megan from Marion. Uncle and Aunt Ron and Julie Howard, cousins Justin and Aaron from West Frankfort. She treasured her fifth grade team and Frankfort Intermediate family.

She is preceded in death by Grandmother Freda Cash-Chaney, Aunt and Uncle Janet and Robbie Howard.

Gretchen left a daily message on her classroom board to her students. In her untimely passing, we believe she would want this final message sent, “I love you and I’ll miss you every minute that I’m away!”

Funeral services will be held Thursday October 4, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the Trinity Methodist Church with Pastor Joey Dunning officiating. Burial will be in the Tower Heights Cemetery in West Frankfort.  Visitation will be from 12:00pm until 3:00 pm also at the church. Union Funeral Home in West Frankfort is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to SI Bank for her daughter’s Abby and Lily’s college fund.

Condolences of sympathy may be made at