May Belle Gaines died peacefully of natural causes three days after celebrating her 87th birthday with family. She is survived by her devoted husband of 63 years, Richard Gaines, by their children, William, Susan, and Kathleen Gaines, son-in-law Ray Welch, and grandsons Brendan and Patrick. Born in Texas, May Belle moved to Los Angeles with her mother as a teen. She studied art at UCLA where she met Richard. They married in 1949. May Belle earned a teaching credential while her children were young and had a long, successful career. She loved teaching first-graders to read. The family moved to Los Gatos in 1970. After she retired, she and Richard moved to Sonoma County, where she joined the Artists Six Group and resumed her art career, exhibiting her watercolors throughout the wine country. May Belle was an avid reader and enjoyed bridge, square dancing, trips to the beach, and family gatherings. Family and friends will miss her keen mind, determination, easy-going disposition, and her warm calming smile. The family is grateful to Faduma Kariye, The Rafael, and Hospice by the Bay for their caring help during May Belle's final months. There will be a small private memorial. Friends and family are invited to share memories online at www.keatonfunerals.com. Please donate to the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation or Hospice by the Bay in lieu of flowers.
Published in the Press Democrat from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10, 2012