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Remembering Ken Gresh

By Jennifer Summy

I wish we could have shared something sooner, but this news shocked us all as we began our first day of summer camp. Many of the people who were here knew Ken Gresh and their family personally. Anna Gresh even joined us for this week, as we enjoyed camp together, and remembered all of the wonderful things Ken brought to camp, and the impact he made on this place and these people. It was hard processing this news, as we grieved the loss of a member of our camp community, but we were honored to be able to remember and celebrate the part of his life he shared with camp.

Betty and Curtis Hartman have fond memories with the Gresh family. Betty remembers that "Kenny was a very special person. I will never forget him. Curtis and Gieta were 'camp spouses' so Ken and I were jokingly 'camp spouses' as well."

Ken's wife, Gieta Gresh, was the administrator at camp from 2005-2020, and her whole family played a vital role in the character of camp during her time here. Ken was in charge of the kitchen for many summers, and their children - M, Wesleigh, Anna & Freiden helped out in different areas as they grew older - in the kitchen, lifeguarding, counseling, and more.

Ken was a lover of the arts, and was very involved in theater. He participated in and helped with many local musicals and plays, and could often be found treading the boards himself.

One of Ken's most memorable roles was Santa Claus. As he grew out his illustrious white beard, he could often be spotted as the man in red, bringing joy to many in the community and to his family for the holidays. As his daughter, M, shared on Facebook, "He was always helping someone, always bringing joy to those around him. He was a good man with a big heart. His volunteer work, playing Santa, and his love of music were a huge part of what made him such an amazing person. He was a part of so many communities over the years as a pastor, a father and a friend."

Ken was also a teacher by trade, with a degree in Elementary Education from Messiah College. His time as a teacher had a profound impact on his students. One former student, Justus Trippett, commented on Facebook "Ken Gresh believed in me when no other teachers would. Even after I ... was a 'bad' student he still showed me love! ... Fast forward a few years, I became a camp counselor at his and his wonderful families camp, he gave me a fresh slate and didn't look at me as the 'bad' kid instead he lifted me up with encouragement and so much love and kindness. So much so, I spent the next 6 years volunteering my summers to their camp! I love love love this man, he has ALWAYS been one of my biggest fans and supporters."

Although I had very few personal interactions with Ken, the one I do remember was the first time I came to visit Denton for my interview at Camp Mardela. I went to the Denton Church of the Brethren that morning and he sang for special music. I remembered feeling at home being there. Being a musician myself, I loved his love for music, and his love of sharing Jesus with others through music. There are several camp songs attributed to Ken Gresh, most notably his long and glorious "Amen" sequence that would follow camp graces before meals.

The news of Ken's passing was truly heartbreaking. It all happened so fast, but we know that he is at home with Jesus - at rest, at peace - no more pain, no more suffering. We are deeply saddened by his loss, but we know his legacy will live on through his songs, stories, and the lifelong impacts he made on those around him. You are dearly missed at Camp Mardela, Ken.

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