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Berkeley Gunther painted a water color image of the Jewel House during art class at The Gatesworth in University City on Nov. 5.
Berkeley Gunther painted a water color image of the Jewel House during art class at The Gatesworth in University City on Nov. 5.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Retired educator appreciates vibrant Catholic community

Senior living community supports residents’ faith lives

Berkeley Gunther likes the sense of a “real Catholic community” at the senior living community where she lives.

There’s a vibrant Catholic community at The Gatesworth, Gunther said. The senior residence is supportive of all residents’ faith lives, Gunther said, citing a monthly Mass, a weekly Communion service, a gathering of people who recite the Rosary and an ecumenical Bible study in which Catholics participate.

In addition, The Gatesworth offers free transportation to two nearby churches on weekends, Annunziata and Immacolata. Christmas and Easter are a big deal at the residence, too.

“That was important to me,” Gunther said of opportunities to connect with her faith. “I wanted to be sure that when I couldn’t get out to Mass on my own that there would be services here and transportation to church.”

Going to Mass together “makes us comfortable,” she said.

Gunther has lived at The Gatesworth for two years and enjoys the variety of activities there. She volunteers at BJC Extended Care, does artwork and takes care of the greenhouse and assists in the library and art studio. “There’s plenty of opportunities,” she said.

She is the former head of the middle school at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. She was there 33 years, an English teacher who always taught at least one class even while serving as an administrator. She has an undergraduate degree from Maryville University and a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. A graduate of Villa Duchesne High School and a member of Immacolata Parish, education remains an interest of hers. And she’s interested in civic matters, too.

“I’m a big fan of my hometown,” Gunther said.

She was married to the late Keith Gunther for 44 years. He was well known in St. Louis with a long and distinguished career in broadcast journalism, including helping to put KSD-TV on the air in 1947. She was a widow with six children when she married him. Her first husband was Roland Hoerr, former president of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Conservation and the outdoors are among her interests.

She keeps tabs on her children, stepchildren, grandchildren, stepgrandchildren and step great-grandchildren, some of whom live across the country. Gunther travels frequently and recently returned from California where family members participated in a swim to benefit cancer care for undeserved patients in the Bay area.

Seniorhousingnet defines independent living communities as senior housing communities designed for independent seniors who desire the conveniences of community living. These communities offer recreational, educational and social opportunities. Independent living communities may also be called retirement communities, congregate living or senior apartments.

Helpguide.org states that in general, the housing is friendlier to aging adults, often being more compact, with easier navigation and no maintenance or yard work to worry about. Community activities often include arts and crafts, holiday gatherings or continuing education classes,for example

Ken Alexander, chairperson of the residents’ association at The Gatesworth, said many of the association’s committees do charitable work. For example, he said, a group of knitters donate items to Nurses for Newborns, Children’s Hospital and people in need in Honduras. Residents also do a significant amount of volunteer work in the community, he added.

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