View Full Version : Jean Cashin

08-19-2013, 12:01
This morning Bob "Rerun" Sparks called ATC to let us know that Jean Cashin passed away yesterday. Jean was ATC's Information Specialist from 1972-1996 and our 2nd employee. She was often referred to as "the face of ATC" and "Trail Mom." Jean sat at the front desk of ATC Headquarters for 24 years and greeted every hiker and visitor who came to ATC on a weekday, and often made them feel like long-lost family members. Many return visitors (and there were many that came back just to see Jean) were greeted with hugs. Any hiker who looked like they might have needed a hug got one right away, no matter how dirty or smelly.

Just a little while ago I spoke to two of her daughters and a granddaughter. They are planning a Celebration of Life, tentatively this weekend. More details will be published in local papers soon and presumably the Grove Bowersox funeral home website (http://www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com/), maybe as soon as today.

Numerous family members were present when Jean passed, and a daughter said she had a smile on her face. She has been unwell for several months.

Jeanís husband George, who survives Jean, was a very active volunteer for ATC. Among his contributions were making wooden plaques that 2,000-milers could purchase for a modest fee.

There is a wonderful article in the ATCís member magazine, Appalachian Trailway News (the predecessor of A.T. Journeys) about Jean when she retired in April 1996 that I will try to get scanned.



Laurie P.

Old Hiker
08-19-2013, 14:06
Prayers and condolences. I never met her, but heard good things.

08-19-2013, 14:16
Never met her but certainly thankful for her contributions to the Appalachian Trail.

Recall seeing several excellent ALDHA sponsored videos of her. Here are two links to the videos:



Teacher & Snacktime
08-19-2013, 14:39
I don't think we've met her either, but I think I've spoken to her on the phone. If so, it was one of the most welcoming ATC conversations I've had, and she was helpful and thoughtful of my ignorance of how the ATC works.

08-19-2013, 15:26
A great lady. With a gracious calm, she helped visitors of all types - hikers, non-hikers - in her years behind the desk. Her "Up Front" columns never failed to be an interesting read. RIP Jean and condolences to the family. Thanks Laurie for posting.

08-19-2013, 17:02
Reposting here (with his permission) what Model T (J.R. Tate) wrote when he learned of Jean's passing:

It really is a sad day. Jean was such a ray of sunshine to many of us thru-hikers who needed a motherly pat on the back when we reached Harpers Ferry. A little piece of me died with her passing.

08-19-2013, 17:06
The following brief obituary and details about the service were posted at http://www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com/obituary/M.-Jean-Cashin/Waynesboro-PA/1235652#obit-memories. Condolences can be left on the guestbook on that site.

Mrs. M. Jean Cashin, 83, of 9922 Mentzer Gap Road, Waynesboro, PA, passed away Sunday, August 18, 2013 in her home.

A Celebration of her Life will be held at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, August 24, 2013 in Waynesboro Country Club, 11000 Country Club Road, Waynesboro.

Arrangements are by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home, Waynesboro.

08-19-2013, 17:29
Prayers and condolences to her family & friends

Lone Wolf
08-19-2013, 18:06
met her for the first time in 86. ran into her a bunch of times at various AT functions and at ATC after that. great lady. Laurie has filled her shoes wonderfully

08-19-2013, 18:38
Never met her but certainly thankful for her contributions to the Appalachian Trail.

Recall seeing several excellent ALDHA sponsored videos of her. Here are two links to the videos:



Here's Part III


RIP Jean

Spirit Walker
08-19-2013, 19:05
Thank you for letting us know. She was a very warm and wonderful representative of ATC to the hiking community. I was sorry when she retired, though you filled her shoes extremely well.

warren doyle
08-20-2013, 12:15
My sadness is rising and drifting south from the 100 mile wilderness as the AT has lost a precious human resource, the best person in the right place at the right time. Both Jean and Dave Richie were the warm, compassionate, human faces of ATC/NPS during an era of great transition for the trail. She was the one person in Harpers Ferry who always made me feel that my passion for the AT was always valid and welcome.

08-20-2013, 21:19
Thank you Laurie for posting this very sad news. I the pleasure of meeting Jean on many occasions. A kind and wonderful lady, always helpful and friendly, with a beautiful smile. She was true pillar of the AT community for many years and will be sorely missed by all in our trail family.
RIP Jean and condolences to the family.

08-20-2013, 22:29
She was a wonderful person, and will be greatly missed.

rusty bumper
08-21-2013, 18:54
During my AT thru hike dreaming times in the 70's, 80's and 90's, Jean Cashin's name seemed to always be popping up in the Appalachian Trailways News....sort of like ATC = Jean Cashin. Rest in peace Jean.

08-21-2013, 22:23
For those who visited the link after my first post but didn't go back, here is the expanded obituary that was posted by Jean's daughter:

Mrs. M. Jean (Van Gilder) Cashin, 83, of 9922 Mentzer Gap Road, 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 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, Maryland 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, WV. 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 Conference's hiker services, Jean retired. Her presence behind the information desk may have been consistent since the beginning, but it didn't 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, WV.

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, NC, and her loving friends Theodore and Joey Hoffman of Middletown, MD., and Marge Serrano, of Winston-Salem, NC.

The family will hold a Celebration of Life and a reception on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 11 am at the Waynesboro Country Club, 11000 Country Club Road, Waynesboro, PA.

Contributions in memory of Jean may be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, [P.O. Box 807], Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

Arrangements are by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home, Waynesboro.

Online condolences may be expressed at www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com - See more at: http://www.bowersoxfuneralhomes.com/obituary/M.-Jean-Cashin/Waynesboro-PA/1235652#sthash.qan88UBH.dpuf

If you wish to write her husband George and the family, the address is: Blue Rock Farm, 9922 Mentzer Gap Road, Waynesboro, Pa 17268

08-21-2013, 22:29
I too - never met her - but am thankful for her contributions to the trail ! R.I.P. - and thank you very much Jean !

08-22-2013, 12:07
The first time I met Jean, I was stopping in to pick up a mail drop before heading off to lodging. After engaging in conversation she soon knew my history and all about me (She had that down to an art).

Knowing of my experience with many non-profits at many levels, she soon put my skills to work.....
Stuffing envelopes....lots and lots of envelopes.

She was the face of the ATC, the only one that many hikers ever saw over many years. She was called "Mom" by many, it was not a title she gave herself, it was one hikers gave her.

When it came time for the obligatory thru-hiker gonna-be Polaroid, I asked her why hers wasn't on the wall. After she took mine I insisted on taking hers. Telling her "you're famous you know". All she could know was flash that famous smile.


08-22-2013, 21:00
So sorry to hear of her passing. Talked to her on numerous ocassions and she was always helpful and had an incredible knowlege of the trail and its 'characters'. Condolences to her family and loved ones....