Gerri Gianelli, 87, died Friday, May 3, from stroke complications. The Capitol Hill mother of eight was a graduate of Holy Names Academy as well as Seattle University, where she majored in sociology. She transferred to SU after attending the University of Washington, where she was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
After college, Mrs. Gianelli (nee Geraldine Ignatia Mackay) was the secretary to Father Albert A. Lemieux, S.J., who was president of Seattle University. She married her college sweetheart, Jim Gianelli, who died in April 2000, less than a month before their 50th wedding anniversary.
Mrs. Gianelli retired from the business world when her first child was born, but since she had eight children over a 10-year span, she never really stopped working. In addition to all the usual chores involved with raising a large family without any hired help, Mrs. Gianelli attended daily Mass, served on the parish council, and tirelessly coached just about every child of hers (along with an occasional neighbor) in that age-old Catholic school ritual called "speech contests." (Several of them walked away with first-place awards, so her efforts were not in vain.)
She was as at home at her Literary and Travel Club meetings as she was at Lisabeula, the family's rustic Vashon Island vacation spot, where she made wonderful blackberry pancakes on a wood stove, and did the laundry using the hand-cranked washing machine in the combination "bathroom/utility room" down the road.
Gerri Gianelli was an incredibly dedicated, deeply religious and completely committed wife, mother and grandmother, who had that special ability to make each of her children and grandchildren believe they were her personal favorite.
She was one of seven children, the daughter of Wallace and Sara Mackay, and the niece of the Rev. Thomas E. Gill, a former pastor of St. James Cathedral and auxiliary bishop of Seattle.
She is survived by eight children: James, Diane, Christopher, Lisa, Daniel, Gina, Mary and Sally. She also has eight grandchildren: Ryan Gianelli; Alexander and James Gianelli; Aaron and Zachary Keller; and Claire, Anker and Madeleine Anderson.
A Rosary will be held at Bonney-Watson, 1732 Broadway E. at 7 pm on Friday, May 10. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Seattle's St. Joseph Catholic Church, 700-18th Ave. E., at 11 am on Saturday, May 11. Internment will follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Remembrances may be sent to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, 2911 West Ft. Wright Drive, Spokane, WA 99224. Please sign the guest book at www.bonneywatson.com.
Published in The Seattle Times on May 5, 2013