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Gail P. Burns-Smith

BURNS-SMITH, Gail P. Gail P. Burns-Smith, 62, of Old Lyme and Vernon, passed away unexpectedly at her residence on September 5. She was born December 1, 1946 to Thomas P. Burns and the late June (Crosson) Burns. She is survived by her husband of over 40 years, Thomas E. Smith, daughter Kerry E. Smith, her partner Rue Landau, and grandson Eli Smith-Landau of Philadelphia PA, son David M. Smith and his fiancé Mary Coleman of Tacoma, WA, father Thomas P. Burns, brother Thomas P. Burns II and his wife Susane of West Hartford, sisters Patti Burns of Rocky Hill and Maureen Kalafut and her husband Roger Kalafut of Manchester. Gail is also survived by nieces and nephews: Allyson Ruganis, Emely Larson, Sean Burns, Mark Smith, Kennen Smith, Lorraine Pelkey, Joann Rogers, James Mercier, Linda Mullen, Arthur Haskell, Robert Haskell, Susan Gunderson and several grand nieces and nephews. She was a graduate of Yale New Haven School of Nursing and earned a B.A. from Eastern Connecticut State University. Early in her career she was a head nurse and the in-service educator of Nursing Staff at Hartford Hospital. She was the Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Center of Crisis Services (CONNSACS) from 1982 to her retirement in 2004, where she grew the organization from a staff of just herself to twenty-three. In 1996 she partnered with the Center for Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior, creating the first Victim Advocate Program for sex offender treatment, which later became the national model for such programs. She also co-founded the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, primarily a Washington, DC, lobbying organization. The Alliance was instrumental in securing passage of the National Violence Against Women Act and the related funding of programs for services to victims of sexual assault and other violence. In retirement, she continued her long-time commitment to victims of violence by serving on the board of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. She also volunteered her time in several arenas. Family will receive friends on Thursday, September 10, from 4-7 p.m. at the Swan Funeral Home, 1224 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, where the funeral service will be held on Friday at 10 a.m., with Committal to follow at Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Gail Burns-Smith "Dare to Dream" Scholarship Fund, CONNSACS, 96 Pitkin St, East Hartford, CT 06108.

Published in The Hartford Courant on Sept. 8, 2009
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