Henrietta Birch Gregory of Claremont died on October 11, 2012. She was 90.
Ms. Gregory was born on June 7, 1922 in Louisville, Kentucky to William and Julia Birch. As a senior in high school, she met Lyman Gregory at Midway Christian Church and they were married on December 14, 1942 in Covington, Kentucky.
Mr. Gregory was in the US Air Force and afterwards pursued a career as a pilot. He conducted aerial mapping for many years and Ms. Gregory often joined her husband in his single-engine Cessna, operating the camera while he navigated the plane.
They ranged far and wide on such excursions, and Ms. Gregory was later proud to say she had traveled to 46 states. She continued to travel widely even after the birth of her son Gary and throughout her life visited exotic locales in Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
Life acquired a new flavor when the family moved to California in 1954, settling 5 years later in Claremont. Ms. Gregory was temporarily grounded when her family grew with the addition of 2 girls, and she settled into motherhood. She was active in her kids’ activities like her daughters’ Campfire Girls troop. While they were growing up, her primary focus remained on her children.
Ms. Gregory was a substitute teacher with the Upland School District for a couple years and worked for a time in the registrar’s office at Mt. San Antonio College. She was an avid seamstress and knitter, often making clothes for herself and her children. She was also a fine cook, noted for her savory beans and vegetable soup.
A gifted piano player, she provided a rich musical backdrop to their upbringing. She was also adept at organ and accordion and loved playing hymns, classical music and hits from her youth. Ms. Gregory opted to minor in music when she returned to school at 54, double majoring in economics and business administration at the University of La Verne.
She loved reading almost as much as music, poring through biographies and business books and reading the newspaper from cover to cover each day. Ms. Gregory also had a knack for numbers and was the one family members turned to when they needed help with financial matters and accounting.
After graduating from the University of La Verne, Ms. Gregory lent her business acumen to Boys Republic in Chino, serving for 16 years as business manager for the charitable organization’s annual Christmas wreath campaign. She also found time to get involved in Claremont politics, helping friends run for city council and lobbying for local infrastructure improvements.
Family shared that Ms. Gregory was very caring and that, when it came to helping young people launch their college careers, she was quite financially giving.
Ms. Gregory was preceded in death by her husband, Lyman Gregory, in 1995. She was also preceded in death by her son, Gary Gregory, her parents, William and Julia Birch, and her sister, Marie Thomas.
She is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Lauren and Victor Herbert and Leesa and Matt Morlee; by her grandchildren, Rebekah and Angela Herbert and Mason and Makenna Morlee; by her niece, Julia Lannom; and by her grandnieces, Margie Wheeler, Connie Lannom and Vickie Hayward.
Services will be held on October 20, 2012 at 10 a.m. at Todd Memorial Chapel, 570 N. Garey Ave., Pomona. Burial will follow at Oak Park Cemetery, 410 Sycamore Ave. in Claremont.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Boys Republic, 1907 Boys Republic Dr., Chino Hills, CA 91709.