Skip navigation

Friday April 20, 2012

Gretchen Ann Ghent

Devoted wife, teacher, librarian, champion swimmer, sports historian, film buff, gardener. Born April 21, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio. Died Oct. 31, 2011, in Calgary, of cardiac arrest from a blood clot blockage, aged 72.

Gretchen Ghent was the consummate teacher, librarian and colleague - dedicated, caring, funny, intelligent and trustworthy. She grew up in Solon, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. When the Cleveland Indians won the 1948 World Series aided by their ace pitcher "Bullet Bob" Feller, Gretchen and several young friends rang the Fellers' doorbell on Thanksgiving to ask for his autograph. He obliged.

Young Gretchen Kluter was a champion swimmer, winning a gold medal for the United States in the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City. She missed qualifying for the 1956 Olympics by only 3/10 of a second, and was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.

Attending Ohio State University and graduating with a BSE in 1961, she was hired as a school teacher in Berkeley, Calif., where she met Ed Ghent. Their marriage in 1962 began a 49-year love affair that took them to New Zealand and then to Canada in 1967, when Ed accepted a faculty position at the University of Calgary.

Gretchen attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1968/69, obtaining a library-science degree in 1969. As a librarian at the University of Calgary until retirement in 1995, she headed two separate departments and was the archivist for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Realizing that the World Wide Web would revolutionize access to sports information, she became a moving force in the sports history field.

A sports information colleague in Los Angeles notes that before there was Facebook there was Gretchen Ghent. While trying to locate other sports library collections in North America, he kept hearing of someone at the University of Calgary named Gretchen. She was a founder and driver of the North American Sports Library Network and became the North American representative to the International Association for Sport Information.

For more than two decades, she tirelessly connected people with each other to facilitate conferences, books and bibliographic projects, as well as singlehandedly writing NASLIN's newsletter, which was informative and cutting edge. Recently, Gretchen was a major contributor to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer, and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary.

Her website, Scholarly Sports Sites, which is being carried on by the Stark Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Tex., is a lasting contribution to research in sports studies. Colleagues identify Gretchen as a giving person who made everyone in sport information better at his or her job.

Gretchen also worked for the Calgary Film Society in the 1970s and 80s, and was a creative cook, seamstress and gardener who experimented with what would grow in the harsh Alberta climate.

Dual citizens of the U.S. and Canada, Gretchen and Ed contributed enormously to the Canadian learning environment. Gretchen's legacy is twofold: the online resource she created and the example that she set for all.

Marjorie and Roger Macqueen are friends of Gretchen and Ed Ghent.

Submissions: lives@globeandmail.com

Back to top