Mrs. M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin, 83, of Waynesboro, Pa. gently passed away at her home on Blue Rock Farm surrounded by family.
Born in Allentown, Pa. to William and Susan Waters Pitten, Jean grew up at the Good Shepherd Home where both 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 further attended East Stroudsburg University, majoring in physical education. She was on the National Honor Society during her college years. She then married William R. Van Gilder, who predeceased her 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 non-profit organization in Frederick 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 Conference in Harpers Ferry. She and her husband, George, moved to Harpers Ferry, enjoying life along the river. After 24 years at the ATC as an Information Specialist, during which time she helped shape and personalize the Conferences hiker services, Jean retired. Her presence behind the information desk may have been consistent since the beginning, but it didnt keep her from earning a well-deserved trail-wide reputation as the universal Trail mom. Having hiked some of the trail as a young adult and in 1985 reached the top of Mt. Katahdin, 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, volunteered at the local library and the Renfrew Institute in their summer reading programs.
Jean was a lifetime member of the 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, partner Kristy Hansen of Gapland, MD, Diana Lee Keilholtz-Gunder, husband Paul of Waynesboro, Pa., Judith Ann Dittmann, husband Wayne of Stafford, Va. and Jill Louise Colaluca, husband John of Frederick, MD; twelve grandchildren, William O. Van Gilder, wife Cathy of Waynesboro, Jason Van Gilder of Waynesboro, Jenna Van Gilder Beckner, husband David of Orlando, Florida, Jessica Van Gilder Smith, husband Charlie, of Boonsboro, MD, Susan Jean Keilholtz Small, husband Shane, of Waynesboro Allison J. Gunder Taimanglo of Alexandria, Va., Matthew E. Gunder of Waynesboro, Jillian Lee Dittmann, Stafford, Va, Carly Anna Dittmann, Stafford, Va, John Stephen Dittmann of Thurmont, Md, Brian Colaluca, 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 held a Celebration of Life and a reception on Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Waynesboro Country Club, Waynesboro, Pa.
Contributions in memory of Jean may be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Washington and Jackson streets, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.
Arrangements are by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home, Waynesboro.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com.