Gail, 74, of Brookdale Hillside in McMinnville, Oregon, is a retired educator and researcher and an all-around-helper for her community and family. Gail taught and researched horticulture crops for many years with a focus on vegetables, specifically potatoes, a lifelong study that has taken her to many different states – from Washington all the way to Arkansas. Prior to moving to Hillside, she spent 18 years living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Through those years, she made many friends who became near and dear to her heart.
Gail met her good friend, Rikki 32 years ago, at a National Potato meeting in Idaho, and the two quickly became friends. They were two of the few women at that conference interested in the science of potatoes. Over the years, these close friends kept in touch. When Rikki was researching potatoes at Eastern Shore of Virginia, Gail, living in Arkansas, helped her analyze her data, and together, they published several professional papers. Gail eventually moved to Eastern Shore of Virginia, where Rikki lived and became very involved in the community by teaching sciences at the local high school, community college, and adult public classes. She coached the “Envirothon” high school competition team, which she proudly said was ranked second in the state. She also worked with students with special needs in her school greenhouse. When her time wasn’t being devoted to the education of the youth, Gail decided to become more involved in her church and the Emmaus Walks, a religious retreat.
Unfortunately, five years ago, Gail faced the fight of her life when she contracted Sepsis Pneumonia. “Gone was my life as a professor,” Gail explained, “I had to teach myself how to think, and learn to walk and talk again.” A month later, her daughters requested that she move to Oregon to be closer to one of them, and she agreed. More than anything, Gail wishes to once again return to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, because, “as a single woman whose family lived across the country, [my] Eastern Shore friends became [my] family.” She said, “They’re a loving group of people. I just want a little bit of that again.”
With the help of Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale, Gail traveled with her good friend, Rikki, from McMinnville, OR, to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and reunited with her friends in the church, community college, high school, and her former adult-students. “There were a lot of favorite part;” said Gail,” just getting to see the people, and everybody was hugging me. It was one of the things that just touched my soul… The other thing [the wish] did was it gave me the courage to keep going again. It’s given me a lot more confidence. My desire to do something was greater than my disability.”
Photo Credit: Allie Beckley Photography