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Gail Mildred Szafran


1915 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Gail Mildred Szafran Obituary
Del Rey Oaks, CA – Gail M. Szafran, 98 years old, passed peacefully with three generations of family surrounding her on April 22, 2014.
Gail was born in Onawa, Iowa at home on the family farm to Douglas and Alva May Lockwood. Gail was one of seven children. Gail is a 17th generation descendent of William White from the Mayflower. A wicker cradle brought over on the Mayflower that held baby Peregrin White is now on display in the Plymouth Museum. Gail grew up during the Great Depression and told many stories of survival and resilience in that period of U.S. History. In spite of great poverty, Gail excelled in school graduating at the top of her class. She was an excellent self-taught piano player leading the entire family in song. Gail attended a Business College near Cleveland, OH, and worked as an editor of a newspaper, her first love of her long career. While Gail was working in the Purchasing Dept. of the Armature Company in Cleveland she met the love of her life, Walter Joseph Szafran. On January 25, 1941 Gail M. Lockwood and Walter J. Szafran were married in Napoleon, Ohio. Gail and Walt were married for 67 years until Walt passed away September 4, 2008. During WWII Gail lived on the Peninsula, working while Walter served in the U.S. Navy in the Landing Craft Infantry.
Gail was known as "Auntie Gail" to generations, peers and business associates. It was not unusual to see a 70-year-old businessman man walk up to a 50-year-old Gail, and start the conversations with "Auntie Gail, I was thinking …about…"
Gail and Walter settled in Pacific Grove where they hand-built two houses. Gail served as an escrow officer from 1945-1954 with W. Crowley and Gladys Lewis. In 1954 Gail and Walt moved to Marina which would be affectionately known to all as "The Ranch" a six-acre ranch to fulfill Gail and Walt's dream of "Five Acres and Independence". Gail and Walt had gardens, chickens, ducks, and three cows named Nicky, Susie, and Happy. On numerous occasions Gail and Walt were seen on Lake Drive (now Reservation Rd.) leading Susie home from the dog pound where Susie was impounded when she escaped.
On The Ranch, Gail opened her home to her youngest sister, Mary and five children that grew to seven children. When the 1958 flood destroyed Gail's parents lumber mill and home on the Eel River, in Northern California – Douglas and Alva May Lockwood also moved onto The Ranch. Gail provided a loving, safe and wonderfully fun home to all, playing the piano and organ leading all the extended family in song every weekend. At The Ranch, Gail and Walt operated and owned the Mayfield Nursery where they produced Kikuyu Grass that was planted at Fort Ord, the Concord Naval Weapons Station, many other military bases in U.S. and abroad, Marina Vista School, and throughout California by the Department of Highways.
Gail was the sole owner of Tri-City Real Estate, Inc., starting the company in 1954 and selling it in 1986 to ERA. Gail was committed to "helping" families get into their first home, and she did everything in her power to make that happen for countless families for over 40 years. This gave her great satisfaction knowing that she had done "good work to help others". Gail cared deeply for the people who worked at Tri-City in any one of the five offices on the Peninsula. She was generous of spirit to co-workers and their families as they were part of her extended family.
A quote from the Monterey Herald in 1980 described Gail as "She looks like she might be a kindly little old Sunday School teacher or maybe the mother in a large foster home for wayward kids, but looks are deceiving. She has a brain like a fine steel spring…and her greatest single personal asset is accuracy."
Gail has received many awards including one from NAACP for her commitment to helping families have equal access to purchasing a home in any city on the Monterey Peninsula. Gail was an active Board of Realtor member, President of the International Toastmistress, and had more than one Gallon Pin for donating blood. Gail was very generous with many charitable organizations.
In 1966 Gail and Walt moved to Del Rey Oaks on their 25th wedding anniversary and Gail has resided there since. Gail loved jokes, loved to be "silly" and loved to have children and family around her. She helped raised her sister, Mary's seven children as if they were all her own. Auntie Gail lived her life with optimism and plenty of wise advice for any person she came into contact with…but always starting with a smile and a joke.
Gail and Walt were season ticket holders at the Giants Candlestick Park. She often would burst into song, or recite Shakespeare and classical poetry. All were amazed that she could remember every single line. Most of all Gail loved her husband, Walt; she loved her extended family in Cleveland that she visited every year. Gail deeply loved each member of her Monterey family; she stayed close to them throughout her life. She loved traveling with Walt to Spain, Greece, Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, and going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico every winter. She had great joy in living on the Monterey Peninsula, sharing her thoughts on how very fortunate we all are to experience the beauty that surrounds us. For the past eight years Gail enjoyed the wonderful care from the Ambassador's ladies, Sheila, Maria, Lori and Christie during her days at home in retirement, and during the evening with Gloria. She continued to manage her business operations, playing pinochle, solitaire, watching classic movies and singing along with the songs, and most of all spending time with the four generations of family here. Gail is survived by four generations of extended family all over the United States.
Gail will be missed as she had a big heart that opened up entirely to all she knew. Her favorite toast was,"Here's to Love!"
On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, please join us in celebrating Auntie Gail's life.
You are invited to say goodbye to Auntie Gail between 10:00AM-11:00AM for public viewing, and join with friends, family and business associates for the Funeral Services at 11:00AM. Burial services will follow immediately after services at the same location ~ Mission Memorial Park & Seaside Funeral Home located at 1915 Ord Grove Ave., Seaside, CA 93955. If you would like to visit the website to write your online message to Auntie Gail, go to www.seasidefunerals.com.
Published in The Monterey Herald on Apr. 26, 2014
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