Gayle Landreth, (Wilson), 86, of Bellingham, WA died Feb 11, 2020 of congestive heart failure. Gayle was fondly called ‘Nana’ as a grandmother then ‘GG’ when she became a great grandmother. Born Feb 4, 1934, Gayle grew up, married, and raised her family in Whatcom County, WA Mother: Irene M. Russell Blasdell [deceased] Father: Arnie E. Selstead [deceased] Step-fathers: Walt Wilson [deceased] and Charlie Blasdell [deceased] Siblings: Russell ‘Rusty’ Wilson [deceased] (wife: Dixie; children: Cherry Wilson, Darrell Wilson, Rachel Polly (Don), Bruce Wilson [deceased]) Gayle’s Children: Christi (Landreth) Corcoran [deceased]; Dawn (Landreth) Buckenmeyer (husband: Jim); Cindi Landreth (husband: Rick Dubrow); David Landreth (wife: Shellie); Melissa (Landreth) (Smiley) Barney (husband: Delano); and Wendi (Landreth) Diacono Grandchildren (& Great Grandchildren): Jase Corcoran (wife: Monica; children: Gage, Jordan, Samantha); Anna Marie Buckenmeyer; Jami Engholm (husband: Greg; children: Holly Morris, Heather Hubert); Leslie Whitman (deceased) (children: Jennifer Johnson, Brianna Whitman, Leah Spolestra); Brieshon D’Agostini (husband: Kyle; children: Giovanna, Romana, Gaius); Thoren Rogers (wife: Laura; children: Milo, Penelope); Temris Ridge (husband: Matthew; child: Kayla); Malia Austin (husband: Josh; child: Breckin); Adrianne Cotton (husband: Brent; children: Brynn, Tymbre); Madison Sears (husband: Kevin; child: Sawyer); Ajay Smiley; Danielle Alexander (husband: Christopher; children: Analise, Gabe); Whitney Vass (husband: Dior; child: Axton) Marriage: Gayle was married to Edward Corcoran (1950-51); Donald Landreth (1952-1982) Education: Gayle graduated from Ferndale High School (class of ’52) and attended Whatcom Community College (WCC) Gayle’s Life: Gayle grew up on a farm in Ferndale after the Great Depression. As many of you know, this alone had an incredible impact on how a person related to the world – scarcity and resourcefulness were always on the mind. She was always keen on efficiency and not being wasteful; she was careful with both money and things as well as her relationships with friends and neighbors. She really got the concept of ‘We’re all in this together.’ Most of her life she had a productive garden, preserving our vegetables, fruits, and meats that kept us fed during the winter months. Gayle stayed in touch with several of her High School friends, meeting with them monthly until she passed away. Until recently, even one of her teachers attended! As she was growing up, she was very close to and maintained life-long friendships with some of her first cousins: Joyce Bigelow, Donna Pollman, Marilee Musch, and Arlene Preskitt to name just a few. They all have a lot of stories to tell! Gayle lived in Seattle for a short time when her children were very young. She liked to tell a cute story about why she moved out of the city: when they were driving out in the country to visit family one day, the two oldest daughters, Christi and Dawn, were all excited at seeing cows in the fields. They looked out the window and said, “Look at the elephants, Mama!” Well, that was it for Gayle… she moved her kids to the country! When Gayle moved to Maple Falls, she raised her family while also working at her mother-in-law’s General Store. It was a very challenging home life, with the family living in a small mill cabin on 26 acres (purchased for $5,000 in 1957). There was no foundation, no electricity, no indoor plumbing or running water, and no telephone. Propane was the source of cooking and heat. A 2-seater outhouse was the privy. There were 2 bedrooms – 1 for the (first) 4 children and 1 for the parents. With the garden, farm animals, hunting, and commodities, her family squeaked by, but it was very labor intensive for her. Gayle was always a voracious reader and the Bookmobile was her BFF (best friend forever), bringing home a huge stack of books every week! It was her way of relaxing and escaping into worlds unknown to her. The ‘wilds’ of Maple Falls that her children enjoyed were sleeping outside in the summer and hearing coyote dens full of pups howling every year. Occasional bears would steal apples from the trees, and cougars even visited from time to time. For the children, it was a never-ending playground of vine maple branches to bounce on, a little stream to play in, the big Nooksack River to picnic at, trails to walk through, and dirt roads to bike on. Later, in 1968, Gayle moved her family to ‘uptown’ Maple Falls (if you’ve been there, you will get that joke – population is very small) where she had all the modern amenities, like electricity. She was excited about finally being able to use her waffle iron she received as a wedding present. While living in Maple Falls, besides her primary job of being a mother, she was a Girl Scout leader and later a Cub Scout leader, an active PTA member, and a volunteer EMT. She attended local Bible study groups and worked at the Maple Falls Minimart (now Crossroad Grocery & Video). Gayle adopted 2 daughters – Wendi, in 1970; Melissa, in 1972 – and joined the International Family Adoption Association (IFA). Some of the friends she made in the IFA remained some of her best friends, meeting with them regularly for lunch. Leslie (Neidigh) Kumm, in particular, was a loving support and was with Gayle and her family on the last day of Gayle’s life. Between Leslie, Lora Rawley and Barb McHugh, their long lunches were non-stop love and laughter! After divorcing her husband, Gayle moved into Bellingham where she went back to school (WCC) in a program called ‘Displaced Homemakers’ that helped women get back into the workforce. She became the director at KinderCare, and then took a job as the Executive Assistant at Island Mariner Cruises, a whale watching boat. Whales were one of the loves of her life! She retired to care for her aging parents, to enjoy crafting, reading, birdwatching, to do a little traveling, and to enjoy her children and many grand and great grandchildren! Gayle’s family has lived, now, in Whatcom County for 7 generations. About Gayle: Words heard over and over when telling her friends about her passing: She was always uplifting and positive; To know her was to have a good friend; Compassionate; Resilient; She was one in a million and will be missed by many! Gayle loved the natural world – especially birds, whales, agates and crystals, wild berries, and baskets of natural materials. She walked the beaches looking for agates, made pine needle baskets, and went out to watch the whales whenever she could. Later in life, one of our favorite ways to spend time with our Mama was birding at Silver Lake Park, Drayton Harbor, the Lummi Flats, Wolverine Lake in Michigan… well, anywhere! And the love is being passed on through the generations. Her great grandchildren are all about the love of birds, too. Gayle had a talent of turning nothing into something. We all grew up with nothing on the monetary scale, yet Mom made it feel different for us. She was so crafty that she could make beautiful clothes (especially much-loved new flannel PJs on Christmas morning!), afghans, curtains, lamp shades, dolls and doll clothes,… She could take something at the seeming end of its life and revive it into something new – she had vision and talent, was patient and resourceful, and this will be remembered and valued by her family for the rest of their lives. Gayle never knew a stranger. Standing in line at the grocery store was an opportunity to make a new friend. If you met her at the counter of her place of work, you would feel special and important, have a good laugh over something, and maybe even find someone you know in common. She valued every relationship. Even on her deathbed, she had the nurses, aids, and doctors laughing! When her eldest daughter, Christi Corcoran, died of cancer and she had joined a grief support group, she eventually ‘graduated’ from the group and invited the others who were also ready to move on to continue meeting; to carry on their work to the next level. From M. Scott Peck (author of The Road Less Travelled): “I have defined love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love.” Gayle loved people. She had a gift for helping you feel safe and supported while opening your heart to an authentic relationship. She prioritized people over things and understood how important it is to invest in relationships. She was forgiving and understanding and continued learning until her last breath. Gayle, along with her daughter, Dawn Buckenmeyer, were part of a group of women who wrote a book that is now a part of the Library of Congress. The book, Reflections from the Heart of a Small Community, is about the schools and communities in the eastern part of Whatcom County over the past 150 years or so. She had also taken on the responsibility, with Dawn, to catalog and print for sharing the photos, diaries, letters, and stories of many generations of our family. Some of Gayle’s hobbies were crafting, puzzling, reading, crossword puzzles, computer games, bird watching, sewing, knitting, crocheting, gardening, and a family favorite – a progressive rummy game called May I. (Served generously with angel food cake with hot lemon pudding topping!) Cooking, however, was NOT her thing! Celebrating a phenomenal, beautiful, enriched, and fully inspired life is one of the most important things we can do! Gayle Landreth touched so many lives in so many diverse ways. We celebrate her! More From Her Children: “Rest in Peace, Mama. You’ve completed your work here and you’ve left your legacy of empathy, connection, and compassion. You live on in each and every one of us! You will always be the Queen of Hearts!” Memorial: The family is planning a Celebration of Life for friends and family this summer. To reach out to the family or for more information, you may call Gayle’s daughters, Cindi Landreth, at 360-319-9092 or Dawn Buckenmeyer, at 360-599-2904 Donations: As Gayle was passionate about the survival, and hopefully thriving, of our local Orca whales, we invite you to make donations to the Center for Whale Research https://www.whaleresearch.com/donate Thank you to the nurses and staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital who helped make her comfortable in her passing. Do not remember me and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night. Do not remember me and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. Do not remember me and cry. I am not there, I did not die! Do not remember me and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. I am the song that will never end. I am the love of family and friend. I am the child who has come to rest In the arms of the Father Who knows her best. When you see the sunset fair, I am the scented evening air. I am the joy of a task well done. I am the glow of the setting sun. Do not remember me and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. Do not remember me and cry. I am not there, I did not die!