Gertrude S. Pontes|
Norfolk - Gertrude Siegel Pontes, 85, passed away peacefully in her home on March 23, 2013. "Gert" was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois, a small town just north of Chicago, a place where her and her only sister frequently recalled many fond memories of their teenage years. In 1948, she married Eugene Francis Pontes, a young sailor stationed at nearby Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the newly married couple soon departed for overseas tours in Panama and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 1960, the family moved to Virginia Beach and it was here in Hampton Roads that Gert came to feel most at home. So much so that she made this her residence for over 50 years, most recently as a resident of West Ghent.
Not long after arriving in Hampton Roads, Gert found employment with the J.C. Penney Company at their then new store in Janaf Shopping Center. A dedicated worker, she loved the retail business and worked her way from the position of floor salesperson all the way up to manager of the Ladies Department. In that time the store had moved to the just-opened Military Circle Mall where she led her department at the height of the store's success and popularity during the 70s and 80s. In her nearly 30 years with J.C. Penney she trained countless employees, many in entry level positions such as the one she first took as a young Navy wife. In the years since her retirement, it was quite common for her to run into those co-workers who would thank her profusely for instilling in them the proper way to dress, act, and respond with integrity when working in positions of responsibility and dealing with customers. For many of them, it had been their first job and Gert certainly made it a memorable and valuable experience for them.
Despite her full time employment, Gert was a loving wife and dedicated mother to her three sons. Unfortunately she was predeceased too early in life by her husband and youngest son, William, both of whom were lost to terminal illnesses. Nonetheless, her countless friends that reside in and around Virginia Beach and Ghent will tell you that she soldiered on and maintained a cheerful, fun-loving attitude despite these heartbreaks. She was rewarded for her perseverance in her search for a full and flavorful life during the 1980's when she met her new partner for life, Joseph Mayer, also a long-time Norfolk resident. Joe and Gert made a spirited couple and together they enjoyed the past 24 years living life to the fullest with their many friends. It was Joe who most made Gert comfortable and happy, especially during these last few months as she doggedly battled her illness.
Gert is survived by Joe and two sons, Lee of Coronado, CA and Jerry of Kill Devil Hills, NC. Additionally, to honor her memory there are five grandchildren spread across the country from Florida to California. She was predeceased also by her younger sister, Eileen, who also succumbed to cancer a decade ago.
Visitation for family and friends will be on Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Great Neck Chapel with funeral services at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Princess Anne Memorial Park off Great Neck Road. In lieu of flowers please send a donation to a cancer
. Condolences may be offered to the family online at www.hollomon-brown.com
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 25, 2013