Florence Mary “Gretchen” Handren 1938~2022


Florence Mary “Gretchen” Handren (Hodgkins), 83, of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania passed away February 15, 2022 at Chambersburg Hospital after a brief illness.

Florence Mary "Gretchen" Handren
Florence Mary “Gretchen” Handren

She was born on February 20, 1938 in Millinocket, Maine to Ernest and Edna (Darling) Hodgkins.

Gretchen grew up in the small town of Richmond, Maine, and she met her future husband Neil Handren as a teenager, when he was spending the summer with his best friend Gary Getchell’s family across the river at Gary’s grandfather’s place.

They fell in love, and as soon as Gretchen graduated from high school in 1955, she journeyed to Colorado to marry Neil, who had joined the United States Air Force one year earlier. 

Thus began their twenty-year nomadic life in the military, during which they raised three children. Their favorite posting was at Loring Air Force Base in Northern Maine, so they decided to settle down just south of there in Presque Isle when Neil retired from the service.

Neil began his second career in computer programming at a bank, while Gretchen did administrative assistant work at a state agency and later within the local school district.

From 1986 until 2011, they lived in Portland, Maine and enjoyed volunteer work in their free time, especially as ushers for The Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Portland Concert Association.

They loved the cruises they went on, hosting their grandchildren in the summer, and spending time with each other. They moved to Mercersburg in 2011. 

Gretchen is survived by one sister, Norma McPherson (92) of Augusta, Maine, son Randy (Maureen) Handren of Perham, Maine, son Larry (Allison) Handren of Portsmouth, RI, and daughter Julie (David) Bell of Mercersburg, PA. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Nicole (Kert) Clark of Ellsworth, Maine; Scott (Tina) Handren of Warwick, RI; Jeff (Iris Bohensky) Handren of Jamestown, RI; Holly Handren of Caribou, Maine; Sarah (Josh) Plants of Warwick, RI; Jennifer Bell of Mercersburg, PA; Emily Bell of Mercersburg, PA; and Johnathon Handren of Portsmouth, RI; and six great-grandchildren.

Gretchen was preceded in death by her beloved husband of nearly 65 years, Neil Alan Handren, who passed away on May 9, 2020, her parents, one brother, and two sisters. 

Funeral services will be private and at the convenience of the family. Kelso-Cornelius Funeral Home, Ltd., of Chambersburg has been entrusted with assisting the family.

The omission of flowers is requested. Donations may be made to the Humane Society or Hospice.

Online condolences may be expressed at the funeral home’s website

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Florence Mary “Gretchen” Handren (Hodgkins), please visit the floral store.