July 21, 1945 – October 2, 2018
Gail Irene Walsh, 73, passed away peacefully with family by her side at the Walsh family cottage in Brockville on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gail was born in Sarnia to parents Fred and Joan Walsh, who moved to Brockville when Gail was a little girl. She was one of seven children, and had a wonderful and busy childhood growing up on the St. Lawrence River and at Butternut Bay.
As an adult, Gail worked as a lab technologist in Ottawa, Edmonton and Switzerland. She married in Switzerland and moved back to Canada with her husband at the time, Misha Vavro. She lived in Waterloo briefly before returning to Brockville, where her three children, Tommy, Caroline and Maria were raised. Gail was a stay-at-home mom until returning to school in her 40s to complete an honours degree in Sociology from Queen’s University. Gail’s interest in her community and her caring nature led her to work at the Brockville Museum, the United Way and as an Educational Assistant in local schools. She also became involved in community initiatives such as bringing French immersion to the Brockville area.
Gail loved her family and like any grandmother, was proudest of her grandson, Massa. Her sense of humour, kindness, intelligence, steadfastness and love of socializing meant she was always in good company among family and friends.
Gail enjoyed travelling and when living abroad in early adulthood she was quick to learn many languages. Downtime was spent on walks with neighbours, gardening, and outdoor activities, such as swimming and skiing. Gail is remembered for being someone who treated everyone equally, with kindness and respect.
She was a devoted daughter to her parents, a dependable and fun sibling and aunt, and the best mom. She is also remembered for her quiet strength and resilience in her long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, which she was diagnosed with in her mid-50s. She visited her children in Japan, England and British Columbia to let them know in person of her diagnosis.
Gail was passionate about pursuing treatment options and contributing to medical advances, taking part in medical trials and undergoing brain surgery. Her resilience and hopefulness ultimately helped keep her quality of life while she pushed boundaries at each stage of the disease.
Since 2011, Gail has lived in an assisted living residence and more recently at St. Lawrence Lodge. Her quality of life declining and having exhausted treatment options, Gail chose to die with dignity. Taking control after losing so much independence gave her some relief. So did her sense of humour, which flourished in her final weeks. Loved ones are grateful for this time with her and with knowing that she left this world on her own terms while hearing how much she was loved.
Gail held a high level of trust and fondness for the medical professionals that cared for her, most notably Dr. Ashe, Dr. Mansworth, Dr. Nadeau, and Dr. Pari. Gail’s family feel very fortunate that she was in their excellent and compassionate care. Gail often expressed her gratitude to family and friends for these individuals, their teams and others who cared for her, including those at Wedgewood and St. Lawrence Lodge.
Gail was predeceased by her parents Frederick and Joan Walsh (McLaughlin) and brother Ian Walsh. She is survived by her children, Tommy, Caroline (grandson Massa) and Maria (Michael Flynn), siblings Barbara Darling (Allan), David Walsh (Margaret), Nancy Gall, Thomas Walsh (Julia Duarte), Katherine Walsh (Bryan Demchinsky), sister-in-law Donna Mallory, her Aunt Barbara, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A gathering to celebrate in honour of Gail was held at the Walsh family cottage on Sunday, September 30, 2018. Gail’s family will honour her wishes to have her interment take place at a later date with arrangements entrusted to Irvine Funeral Home, Brockville. People are encouraged to volunteer with Parkinson Canada through its ambassador network and donations to Parkinson Canada are appreciated. Place a donation or leave a condolence online at www.irvinememorial.com.