I'm not really sure how to start this obituary for our Gan-Gay or how best to describe her life.
I guess I should start out by saying that she returned her link to the family's heavenly chain on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
She rejoined her Father (Sam) and Mother (Frances) along with her Sister (Theresa) and her oldest Nephew ('Sammy' Charles - who she helped raise when he was young). That part is clear as I am sure of her salvation because of her strong conviction in eternal life thru Jesus Christ.
She left behind to cherish her memory 2 nieces (Sherry & Cindy) and two nephews (Byron & Danny) along with their spouses and many grand-nieces and nephews. She also has her Uncle Rick, who was more like a brother to her because of their proximity in age, his wife Judy, who Gail went to school with and had warned Rick that he better be good to... because ‘she was not just his wife but Gail's friend’. Judy learned very quickly that when Gail came to visit she would just have to go to bed when she got tired as Rick and Gail would probably be up all night laughing and sharing memories. In addition Gail has her aunts Debbie and Cathy to remember her.
Describing her life is much harder as she was so much to so many and all of us have different and distinct memories of her.
So I guess I should start with the fact that she was born on April 25, 1943...although I always liked to tell her that 'no it was 1941'… so she could correct me… which she loved to do.
She was raised in a house of love and she shared that love with those she grew up with. She always wanted to make people smile, whether it was thru her pantomime, playing the ukulele, singing, or even just going for a ride in her old DeSoto that she affectionately named 'Pugs'. She also showcased her talents in pantomime and was in many shows that folks still have fond memories of.
In high school she worked with her parents at Palmer's Grocery, which was the family store, and made many friends there.
Now this might be hard to believe but the other thing about Gail was that she was headstrong and determined. When she graduated high school her parents wanted her to go to college in Arkansas but she wanted to go to Baylor in Waco, TX. There were long, serious discussions... and then Gail went to Baylor.
Of course she made many friends there which was a pattern that followed her thru her entire life. The difference is that she held onto friendships by calling people, remembering their birthdays, and sending them cards. It can truly be said that when Gail became your friend you had a friend for life.
After leaving Baylor she moved to Memphis, TN where she held several different jobs but to Gail the jobs were not as important as the people that she met at them. One of them was a used car salesman named Roger Reese who asked her to marry him. Now when she told her parents about Roger they were adamantly opposed to her marrying him due to their large age difference. No, no, no she should not marry Roger... they were married soon after. Although the marriage later ended in divorce I never heard her utter a bad word about Roger. In fact she would say that she loved him but just couldn't be married to him.
1973 was a year of heartache for her as Gail lost her beloved father Sam to cancer but before he passed he asked Gail to take care of her mother Frances. This Gail did with love and grace until her mother Frances passed away in her arms at Gail's home in Boerne, TX in 1995.
Taking care of others by exemplifying Christ's love was always a theme in Gail's life. When her niece Cindy, who was a teenager at the time, asked if she could come live with her in Memphis, TN Gail did not hesitate and although money was short she raised her as her own for several years even spending hours late into the night sewing clothes that she could not afford otherwise. She worshiped and worked full-time at Bellevue Baptist Church at the time where she was always available to help others including driving back and forth to Wynne, AR to care for her mother.
Each one of us has our special memories of our Gan-Gay. For me and Danny as children it was that she gave us our 1st BB guns and for my sister Sherry it was always fun to hear how Gail would encourage her to say 'fork' when she was young... you'll have to ask Sherry about that one as I'm not explaining it here! That love and devotion carried over into our adult lives where she was always willing to share advice (whether we wanted to hear it or not), love, and her conviction in a Savior who would someday welcome us if we would just open our hearts to him.
Speaking of her conviction to salvation I would be remiss if I did not mention that she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Quinlan, TX. However, let's face it, although she loved that church and all the people there her heart was forever attached to First Baptist Church in Boerne, TX. It was there that she was in the choir and a member of WOW (Women of Worship) where she fulfilled God's mission for her... going to prisons and just exuding the light of Christ as she sang! She just couldn't help it (or didn't want to) she would start singing and that hand would just shoot up into the air. There were many prisoners who accepted Christ after hearing Momma Gail sing “I'm Going With Jesus” and seeing the light of Christ on her face. In fact as her health deteriorated her director once told her “I don't care if I have to push you up there in a wheelchair those folks need to see and hear you”.
It was also in Boerne that she met her best friend, maybe the best friend that anyone could have, Karen Shipley. Karen and the rest of Gail's band of christian sisters showed her unconditional love and Gail felt the same for them. More valuable than gold was Karen and her circle of friends to Gail.
Unfortunately. her health continued to decline and she finally had to decide to come up to live with us in West Tawakoni. It wasn't always easy but I will always cherish those years when we had Gan-Gay at our home.
Finally. I will close with what I think is most important, what will we miss most about Gail? I think if you asked almost anyone that knew her they would answer the same... her faith, her smile, her laugh, and her ability to regal you with stories from her life, and it did not matter if you had heard them before (sometimes multiple times) it was the enthusiasm and joy in her voice that captivated you.
Alas, God has told her that “Your job is well done true and faithful servant” and has rejoined her with those that have been waiting for her arrival.
We will miss you Gan-Gay and please say hi to Mammaw, Grandaddy, Momma, and Sammy Charles for me.
Gail will be interred at Akin Cemetery after a graveside service with here family on Saturday, April 25, 2020 which would have been her 77th birthday.
Thompson-Wilson Funeral home in Wynne, AR will be handling the details there.
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