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Tribute to Gail A. Berke

Randee Romano Kaitcer
Fort Worth, TX, USA
From: Leaven, Vol. 45 No. 1, 2009, p. 21

Gail A. Berke, 66, a loving wife, mother, sister and loyal friend, died December 28, 2008 while doing one of the activities she loved most in the world -- reading a book. Gail loved literature and music. She was a comfort to everyone and we are saddened by her departure from our lives.

I first met Gail when I joined the LLLI Board of Directors in 1989. It was a time of growth and development of the organization when many issues were debated and not everyone agreed. It was a challenge to accommodate the different view points, but Gail certainly tried her best. Gail's word was her bond, and integrity was paramount in everything she did. She always kept our common mission and goal in sight to help mothers around the world nurse their precious babies.

I was nursing my second daughter and Gail always made sure I was able to take the breaks needed to meet my daughter's needs. Over time, despite our age difference, Gail became my dear friend.

Janet Jendron of Columbia, South Carolina, USA shares:

I served on the LLLI Board of Directors with Gail when she was Chairman of the Board. She stayed at my house when she was the special LLLI guest speaker at an Area Conference of LLL South Carolina. I was the registrar and she stayed up late into the night, helping me assemble the registration books! Gail was compassionate, organized, dedicated and self-disciplined. As Chairman of the Board, she had the opportunity to meet many impressive people, but she always remained humble, down to earth, and devoted to her family. There is no doubt that Gail was especially loved by many people. I will miss her terribly.

Another former Board member, Cecily Harkins of Portland, Oregon, USA, recalls:

Gail was stopped once for a minor traffic violation. She escaped the ticket because the policeman knew her name from the local LLL. Gail was one of the first people I knew to publicize LLL with a personal vanity plate on her car!

As a former Board member and Chairman herself, Brenda Toomey, Mobile, Alabama, USA remembers:

After many years of retirement, I look back on my La Leche League days with wonder. What an opportunity I had to meet people I would not have known otherwise. Gail Berke was certainly one of those people. I remember many times of hard work while serving on the Board of Directors. But mostly, I remember best and miss most our times of friendship. Gail was a special friend, dedicated to LLLI and its mission. She was my good friend, only made possible because through LLL, we chose to give our babies the very best.

Carole Wrede, Leaven Managing Editor, remembers:

Gail was my mentor and friend when we served together on the LLLI Board of Directors and throughout the intervening years. Gail loved babies and children. At any gathering where there were little ones, she would be talking, cooing, and enjoying every baby and child -- her unabashed joy was a pleasure to watch. The time spent with dear friends is precious, and we should never postpone plans until tomorrow. She is deeply missed.

Gail Berke was born to be a mother. She was a natural. There were no people on earth about whom she was more passionate than her family. She was proud to be a mother and proud of her four children, Adam, Devin, Rachel, and Joshua.

Gail was never afraid to express the loving feelings she had. She often mailed little "pick me up" cards for no reason at all, other than she was thinking of you, complete with an appropriate sticker affixed to the envelope. She enjoyed her Laura Ashley guest room, getting a massage, soaking in the tub, and the Brimfield Antiques Fair.

There are so many things about Gail I will miss–her warm and kind heart, her strength, her wisdom, her skills, her love of people, her enthusiasm, her words of encouragement, and her zest for life. But I have been rewarded by the experience of having known her and the privilege and honor of having experienced her friendship and her affection. Gail will always be beside me and I take comfort from her memory. I was blessed to have been a part of her life, as was everyone who knew her.

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