Simon, Gail Joy (nee Manske)
Our Lord accepted Gail on Memorial Day, May 30, 2022 at 67 yrs., surrounded by her husband and their daughters. Beloved wife of Ric. Dear mother of Nicole (Justin) Lange and Shantelle Simon. Loving grandmother of Audrey Joy and Abigail. Sister of Sharon (Ray) Peck, Mark (Chris) Manske, Michelle (Glen) Mills, and Lisa (Dave) Misky. Held close in their hearts by sister-in-law and brother-in-law (Lin and Al Wollshlager). Further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. Preceded in death by both parents, Melvin and Ann Manske (Thompson).
Gail went to her Heavenly home peacefully after battling pancreatic cancer for almost five years. She was a fighter to the end, never wanting to give up. That type of determination and spirit defined Gail. It was prevalent in her activities as a girl scout trailblazer and mariner, her relationships with girlfriends, and the bond built when she met Ric while they both worked at Southridge Mall in Greendale, WI; Gail at Bressler’s 33 Flavors and Ric at Helen Gallagher’s Gift Shop. During Ric’s second time there while taking a break and with no one else there, they had a charming, first-time conversation and Ric was brave enough to ask her out on a date. She politely said “no” and Ric’s heart dropped to the floor. But Gail quickly added, “I can’t this weekend, but I can next weekend”. His heart lifted and Gail continued to hold and protect his heart from the beginning and throughout their almost 48 years of marriage. For those doing the math, that first date was when they were both 17 years old. They married three years later on June 29, 1974. Below is a photo of Gail with her family from almost five years ago before treatments started. Family was her proudest achievement.
Gail’s determination and positive spirit carried through her occupations that included: lifeguarding, various shops at Southridge Mall (Bressler’s 33 Flavors, Information Booth, and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour which was a riot with so much fun for employees and guests); seamstress at Junior House; and forms control analyst at Falk Corporation. Then came the move to Sarasota FL after Ric graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Gail made a large poster for the graduation/farewell party with the words “Graduate of MSOE (More Sex or Else).
While living in Sarasota, Gail worked as a graphics artist for See Magazine and that started life-long friendships that continue to this day. Before their move to Miami, Gail was the ad traffic manager for Serbin Printing, a large and well-respected publishing company in Sarasota.
From Miami to Jupiter FL, to Sylvania OH and finally back home to Wisconsin (Waukesha), Gail always focused 100% on her family and daughters Nicole and Shantelle throughout their school years. SPECIAL NOTE: While living in Jupiter, Gail designed special-needs learning journals to help re-teach what the girls had been taught during the school day. Palm Beach County School System asked to use Gail’s journals as a template to enhance the effectiveness of their program.
Gail applied her graphic artist talent and detail planning skills to design their home in Jupiter. Those who knew Gail well, upon their first visit would typically comment, “This house is Gail”. From the tiniest detail of a light switch placement to the unique design of the master bedroom walk-in shower stall, she poured her heart and soul into it while Ric’s heavy work travel schedule left her making many decisions on her own. She stayed true to the basic fundamentals of “Fit, Form and Function” and then added the Gail twist. Her knowledge and love for nature carried through to the design and planting of the landscaping, while trying to work within a budget. As so many know, that is not easy to do, so Gail cut back in areas that she could while trying to maintain her “dream house”.
That love for nature carried through in all she did, especially as a Girl Scout leader. She cherished the times when girl scouts were eager to learn, and she had the patience of a saint for when they were not. Gail continued to use her organizational skills for the planning and execution of adventurous family vacations. One involved a week-long trip back to Florida and Disney World with the whole immediate family in 2016. The day before they all flew out, she strained her ankle and it swelled up, but nothing was going to stop her, and she never complained. Finally, during one of the last days, she agreed to use an electric scooter. Yes, Gail could be stubborn.
While living in Waukesha, Gail served as a salesperson for Studio One Art Glass at the Brookfield Square Mall. She may have been her own best customer. Gail ended her working career as she started it, lifeguarding. When the former Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center in Pewaukee added a Water Park, she joined the staff as one of the first hired. You may think working there was a lot of fun, and it did have its moments, but it is a tough and extremely responsible job. The 8-9 miles walked per day were challenging. She humbly saved many lives and served as a mentor for most who worked there. A customer told her how he remembered her being on duty when he was there as a high school senior. The Park was closed for a private after-prom party. He remembered Gail’s quick action when needed. He was there again many years later with his family this time and was pleased to see her there. He shared how this brought him an added comfort of safety for his young children.
Gail’s love for art was a big part of her daughters’ upbringing and continued into their adulthood. She had a natural talent in anything she did. That included working with various media, decorating the house for holidays and seasons, and her designing and gardening with nature.
Here is a tribute and story of one of the family’s and Gail’s favorite art pieces. While attending Kellogg’s Community College in Battle Creek, MI, she had an assignment to design a record album cover. Gail pulled out her Cat Steven’s album titled “Teaser and the Firecat” and her talent flowed out. In one night, Gail had drawn Cat Steven’s face surrounded by sketches of his songs with some of their lyrics. Her teacher was so impressed with the work that Gail was unable to get it back from him. Luckily her mother went to that teacher and would not leave until he handed it to her, allowing us to share it with you almost 50 years later.
An added ‘joy’ in Gail’s life was being a nanny for her sister Lisa’s two daughters Jaime and Anna. She was also able to nanny for her first granddaughter Audrey Joy, and for the beginning of Abigail’s life. Loving and patient; true to form for Gail. Below is a photo of Gail with Ric and their two granddaughters. This photo has special meaning as it was the first time the immediate family was all together since the beginning of COVID. It was at one of Gail’s favorite places, Ottawa Lake.
One cannot forget to mention Gail’s passion for photography. You would rarely see her without her Canon camera around the neck and the bag close by with multiple lenses to capture ‘just the right photo’ at ‘just the right time’. For those photographers out there, they know that takes determination and patience. Those two words describe Gail in everything she did. Add ‘a loving and positive spirit’ to ‘determination and patience’, and that was Gail Joy Simon.
We close with our deepest appreciation for all who knew and loved Gail. Thank you for being a part of her life. We pray this tribute will help to bring you peace while knowing Gail is now at peace with our Lord.
Ric, Nicole and Shantelle
PS – According to Gail’s wishes no funeral service will be held. If so desired, memorials will be appreciated to Ascension Lutheran Church Endowment Fund (1415 Dopp St., Waukesha, WI 53188), AngelsGrace Hospice (N74W35908 Servants’ Way, Oconomowoc, WI 53066), or to the charity of your choice.
HERITAGE FUNERAL HOME
New Berlin Chapel