If you had to think of a song most representative of Dinah Gretsch's life, "Magical Mystery Tour" could be the one. Gretsch had a much more diverse upbringing than most have. Her father served in the U.S. Air Force. Her mother is from Germany. Gretsch spent a lot of time in England during her youth, and it didn't take long for her to love music. She met all of The Beatles when she was 14 in the 1960s. "We snuck into a pub. [Laughs] We were good kids. But times were different. They had not even been to the United States before," Gretsch said of the iconic band. "At that time, there were day concerts. So, we would ride the bus to Ipswich and see Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and more. One day, a man came out of the pub and told us The Beatles were inside. We decided to sneak in and meet them."
Gretsch's father finished his military service and moved the family back to the United States, where she finished high school in South Carolina. "I decided to buy a man's business when I was 20," said Gretsch. "It was a credit bureau and collection agency. I later sold it and moved to Ridgeland, S.C. I went to work for Fred [Gretsch] in 1979. The drum factory is still there. We were married in 1984. We've run the business together ever since. I handle everything on the financial end. I also work with all the artists. We have great alliance partnerships with FMIC and KMC, but I still have a lot of contact with artists and am very involved with the business."
How did Gretsch get the job at her future husband's company? When did the two develop a personal relationship? "In 1979, Fred was manufacturing banjos," Gretsch recalled. "He also had a mass merchandiser business. He started that business in 1971, but he had just moved to Ridgeland about two months earlier. I heard he had job openings and I applied. I was hired and I started by running the office. I had already owned my own business, so I knew how to run one. I also got involved with purchasing. I didn't know what a banjo part was, but I learned quickly. Our business grew. We started manufacturing low-end guitars and bought back the Gretsch business in 1984."
Once married in 1984, Dinah took several family business courses to enhance her knowledge. "We're opposites in many ways, and that's what makes us get along so well," Gretsch said of herself and Fred. "He always does his thing and I do mine. I'm in the financial end of the business and happy as a clam. He's the visionary. We don't step on each other's toes."
Among those courses were "Women in Family Business," which was affiliated with Wharton College. Although Gretsch admits she represents a minority in MI, she said being a female has not caused her problems. "Part of it is earning others' respect," she said. "I've attended meetings with Fred for many years. People in the industry have known me for such a long time. I think I've earned my stripes. I have gone to dinners where there are eight men and me. I don't have a problem talking to men. I grew up with three brothers. That certainly helped. You couldn't intimidate me. When I bought a business at 20, that was a huge step for me."
Gretsch's dream has always been to give back to society. So she started Mrs. G's Music Foundation in 2010. "I've put the World Drumming program in two schools this year. Created by Dr. William Schmidt and Remo, it serves 30 percussion students at a time. I have supplied the program and the music teachers. I hope to double that effort next year. I'm really proud of it."
Gretsch also started eight Head-Starts, which are daycare programs for lower-income 3- and 4-year-olds. "I provide the teachers and everything else needed," she said.
Knowing as many artists as she does, Gretsch furthered her efforts by joining forces with several of them to conduct workshops. One of the workshops was called "THA's Got Talent," which took place on March 15 at Thomas Heyward Academy in Ridgeland. The competition featured vocal, dance and variety performances by kindergarten through 12th grade students. On hand to judge winners were Stephen Ferrone, a member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; Joe Robinson, winner of 2008's Australia's Got Talent; and Felicia Lem, a local dance instructor.
Mrs. G's Music Foundation is solely Dinah Gretsch's project. However, she also plays a large role in the Gretsch Foundation, a family charity that provides instruments to needy schools. To contact Dinah about Mrs. G's Foundation, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will to Travel
Gretsch received the Heroes Award from the southeastern district of NARIS in 2006. She was also inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2008. She serves on the boards of the Foundation For the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Notre Dame School. Gretsch serves on the visitation board for the Country Day School in Savannah.
Another reason we mentioned "Magical Mystery Tour" as Gretsch's theme song is because she and her husband are world travelers. The globetrotting couple is out of the country for about six months a year. If you're planning any trips soon, Gretsch has probably been there. And she's more than happy to dispense some tourist information to you.
Family is of utmost importance. The couple has six children and 16 grandchildren. "We spend a lot of time with the family, even though we don't live close to them," Gretsch said.
Other than traveling, Gretsch loves to garden, watch baseball games with her grandchildren and read books on her Amazon Kindle.
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