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Gail R. Holden
October 29, 1937 ~ July 3, 2023 (age 85) 85 Years Old
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Gail R. Holden, beloved wife to her late husband Norman E. Holden, eldest daughter of John and Mary Rafferty, sister to Jody and Christine, loving mother of nine, and a cherished grandmother to twelve passed away on Monday, July 3rd, 2023. She was eighty-five years old.
Gail was born on October 29th, 1937 in Portland Maine. As a young woman, she and her girlfriends Ann Hollywood, Rosanna Dawson and Anne Simmons prowled the hallways of St. Joseph’s Academy, went to the Cheverus Football games on Friday evenings, and attended all the Saturday night dances, before graduating in 1959. She received a nursing degree from Mercy Hospital in Portland, prior to attending Catholic University in 1961, where she met Norman, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Around this time, Gail developed her life-long love of Harry Belafonte; his music and mystique.
After the birth of her first child and spending a year and a half in Alexandria Virginia, she moved to upstate New York (Burnt Hills) where she co-founded a Montessori school with Norman. During the subsequent nine years, she had seven more children, learned to drive, and raised her family in an atmosphere steeped with fun, learning, and love. There was a story relayed to her children recently about the fact that she learned to drive late in life, when she was thirty-two. Her neighbors and friends had been carpooling and knew she didn’t drive so they took her kids to school as a favor. Gail explained that she passed her driver’s test on a Wednesday, and was driving the whole gang to school the following morning. She indicated that she was far more nervous transporting her neighbors’ children than she was taking the test! And this was at a time that preceded car seats, and mandatory seat belt laws.
In 1976 the family moved to Shoreham, where Gail lived for the rest of her life. In August of 1978, with her husband out of the country at a scientific meeting, Gail gave birth to her youngest child Kevin, on the kitchen floor! After Kevin was old enough to attend school during the day, Gail further put her nursing degree to use at Stony Brook University Hospital. As can be imagined from the number of kids that she had, Gail LOVED children. She found her “labor of love” working in the NICU for over ten years. Gail worked overnights to make certain that she was home to get the kids up, fed, and on the bus in the morning, and to be there in case she was needed during the day. In addition, she made all the concerts, sporting events, and plays in which her children participated. Despite her mild-mannered appearance, Gail was often the loudest supporter when it came to cheering for her kids at athletic events!
The family would spend two weeks each summer in Portland, visiting relatives and enjoying the attractions Gail enjoyed when she was growing up. She made certain to pass along the importance and love of family to her children. To this day, her kids indicate that those were some of the best times of their lives. It was during these times that she was able see and enjoy her nephews and nieces, Jeff, Jenna, Maria, Katie, Brittany, and BJ whom she loved and adored, as much as her children.
The 1990s brought Gail grandkids, another round of newborns to delight her. When her own children looked at how easy-going she was with her grandchildren, they wondered where their mother had gone! Shoes can be worn in the house? Vegetables need not be eaten at dinner? Bedtimes are “optional?” Gail was having the time of her life.
It was around this time that Gail had the chance to enjoy her free time and participate in an activity that she had always wanted to do- travel! While she had had the opportunity to visit eight to ten countries with Norman while he was attending IUPAC meetings, now they were both free to travel with no obligations. They cruised all around the world. Alaska and Australia were particularly interesting and fun for Gail.
Gail is survived by her nine children Sean (Jan), Kristen, Maurisa (John), Greg (Arean), Megan (Kenny), Alyse (Mike), Keith (Anja), Kathleen (Greg), and Kevin.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you please consider donating to Gail’s favorite charities: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or St. Labre Indian School.