Obituary: Germaine Kresser Dietsch |

Obituary: Germaine Kresser Dietsch

August 14, 1932 – October 14, 2021

Germaine Dietsch, whose love of connecting seniors and children through oral storytelling led to the birth of the nonprofit organization Spellbinders, died peacefully at age 89 in Denver.

Born in 1932 in Flintridge, CA, Germaine was the second child of Charles and Forrest Kresser and sister to Fred, Lynette, Suzanne, and Bob. She attended Mayfield High School and University of California at Berkeley, where she was initiated into the California Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi.

While at Berkeley, Germaine met her soulmate, Alfred Dietsch. After marrying in 1953, Al and Germaine moved to Cambridge, MA, where Al earned a law degree at Harvard. Following the death of their youngest son, Paul (9), in 1972,
the family relocated to Greenwich, CT from the Los Angeles area before moving to Colorado in the late 1980s.

In 1983, at age 51, Germaine earned a master’s degree in Theater Arts and a certificate in Gerontology from the University of Denver with a goal of helping seniors maintain a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives as they aged.
With the help of two professional storytellers from West African and Jewish traditions, respectively, Germaine developed a program to teach seniors the art of oral storytelling and put them in elementary school classrooms to tell stories to students. It was a magical formula. Children entered a “story trance” – keeping steady eye contact, staying quiet, and demonstrating a hunger to know what happened next – while seniors experienced a rejuvenated sense of well-being and community involvement. In 1991, the Governor of Colorado recognized Spellbinders as a Partner in Education; from there Spellbinders grew to include chapters around the country.

Germaine is remembered as someone who truly cared about others, with a lifelong dedication to service in a variety of forms and a genuine kindness she maintained to the last. Germaine loved hiking, reading, and gardening, and listening to music at the Aspen Music Festival, where her husband Al was a past chair and lifetime trustee. Her long residency (1980 – 2013) in Aspen was marked by her work in the community, training Spellbinders volunteers and participating as a storyteller with the Roaring Fork chapter of the organization.

Germaine is survived by her husband, Al; her brother, Bob (Roseanne) Kresser of Manhattan Beach, CA; her children, John (Mollie) Dietsch of Pacific Palisades, CA, and Gretchen Calhoun of Aspen, CO; five beloved grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and over 20 nieces, nephews, and their children. She is predeceased by her sons Kresser (1993) and Paul (1972); her brother Fred (1983); and sisters Suzanne (1995) and Lynette (2021).

In lieu of flowers, friends, family, and community are encouraged to donate to Spellbinders ( ) to safeguard Germaine’s legacy of connection through storytelling.

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