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M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin, 83

August 20, 2013
  • M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin
M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin

M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin, 83, of 9922 Mentzer Gap Road in Waynesboro, Pa., gently passed away at her home on Blue Rock Farm surrounded by family.

Born in Allentown, Pa., to William Pitten and Susan (Waters) Pitten Brensinger, Jean grew up at the Good Shepherd Home, where both of her parents were caretakers and stewards at the home for many years. The Good Shepherd Home continues to be a rehabilitation center for people of all ages who have physical disabilities. This is where Jean discovered she had a natural compassion for people with special needs, and she told many wonderful stories about her young life at the home.

She was sincere, kind and loving, and touched the hearts of many people during her lifetime.

Jean graduated from Allentown High School in 1948 and attended East Stroudsburg University, majoring in physical education. She was a member of the National Honor Society during her college years.

She then married William R. Van Gilder, who preceded her in death in April 1990.

Jean and Bill were active swimmers, together teaching swimming and diving at the Allentown Country Club and YMCA.

They had five children.

After moving to Braddock Heights, Md., in 1964, Jean worked at the Jeanne Bussard Workshop, a nonprofit organization in Frederick, Md., created to assist people with developmental disabilities and their families to obtain the services they need and want in order to become as independent as possible and enjoy a quality of life within the community. Although challenged, she took on her job with loving care and complete compassion.

In 1972, Jean began a new career with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. She and her husband, George, moved to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., enjoying life along the river. After 24 years at the ATC as an information specialist, during which time she helped shape and personalize the conference’s hiker services, Jean retired. Her presence behind the information desk might have been consistent since the beginning, but it didn’t keep her from earning a well-deserved trailwide reputation as the universal trail mom. Having hiked some of the trail as a young adult and reached the top of Mount Katahdin in 1985, she was always grateful for having the opportunity to serve and be a voice of the trail and its hikers. She continued to support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in many capacities.

Jean and George moved to Waynesboro, Pa., in 2001, and have enjoyed their life together on Blue Rock Farm. Jean was an avid gardener, and loved her greenhouse and tending to her many beds of flowers from season to season. After retirement, Jean also privately tutored children with their reading and writing skills, and volunteered at the local library and the Renfrew Institute in their summer reading programs.

Jean was a lifetime member of First Church of Christ Scientists in Frederick, Md., and Shepherdstown, W.Va.

In addition to her parents and first husband, she was preceded in death by one daughter, Susan Jean Van Gilder Putman; two grandchildren, Christie Diana Putman and Grady Roy Dittman; and two brothers, William Pitten and Conrad Pitten.

In addition to her husband, George J. Cashin, she is survived by four children, William R. Van Gilder and partner, Kristy Hansen, of Gapland, Md., Diana Lee Keilholtz-Gunder and husband, Paul, of Waynesboro, Judith Ann Dittmann and husband, Wayne, of Stafford, Va., and Jill Louise Colaluca and husband, John, of Frederick; and 12 grandchildren, William O. Van Gilder and wife, Cathy, of Waynesboro, Jason Van Gilder of Waynesboro, Jenna Van Gilder Beckner and husband, David, of Orlando, Fla., Jessica Van Gilder Smith and husband, Charlie, of Boonsboro, Md., Susan Jean Keilholtz Small and husband, Shane, of Waynesboro, Allison J. Gunder Taimanglo of Alexandria, Va., Matthew E. Gunder of Waynesboro, Jillian Lee Dittmann of Stafford, Va., Carly Anna Dittmann of Stafford, John Stephen Dittmann of Thurmont, Md., Brian Colaluca and wife, Pamela, of Middleburg, Va., and Faith Colaluca Hubbard of Annapolis, Md.

Jean lovingly leaves 16 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She will be fondly remembered by her sister-in-law, Marjorie Van Gilder Eby and her husband, Dick, of Sunset Beach, N.C., and her loving friends, Theodore and Joey Hoffman of Middletown, Md., and Marge Serrano of Winston-Salem, N.C.

The family will hold a celebration of life and a reception Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at 11 a.m. at Waynesboro Country Club, 11000 Country Club Road, Waynesboro.

Contributions in memory of Jean may be made to Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Washington and Jackson streets, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

Arrangements are by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home, Waynesboro.

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Online condolences may be expressed at www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com.

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