Geraldine ‘Gerry” Gallinari, 94
WINDHAM — Geraldine “Gerry” Wilhelmina McFee Gallinari died peacefully Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, at Ledgewood Manor in Windham, with her family by her side. She had been in declining health over the past few years.
She was born July 25, 1918 in Caribou, the first daughter of Albert and Edna Johnson McFee. She grew up in Caribou and the Swedish settlement of New Sweden, living on the family farms and being raised by her grandparents, aunts and uncles. She attended schools in both communities. She would later enjoy telling stories of living on the farms, helping with the potato harvest (which, at that time, would sell for a dollar a barrel), and skiing to school in the early mornings in the winter to start the wood stove. She was very proud of her Swedish heritage, speaking only Swedish until she started school.
When Gerry was a very young child her mother became ill and was hospitalized for several months. This is where she encountered nurses for the first time. She was entranced with how kind and beautiful they were, and decided then and there that she would someday be a nurse too. After graduating from Caribou High School in 1937 she worked hard to save enough money to attend nursing school, only to have the first diploma school that she attended close three months before she was to graduate. She had to start all over again from the beginning, finally graduating from the Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing in 1943 and earning her RN license. She had intended to pursue a career in nursing and did not plan upon marrying or having a family. That all changed when she met Carl Gallinari. They were married October 28, 1945 at St. Joseph Church and settled in his hometown of Bridgton. There, he ran the family store, Gallinari Fruit Company, on Main Street, and they raised their family of three daughters.Gerry returned to nursing in the 1950s, after the birth of her last child. She would work as a staff nurse at Northern Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Bridgton, first in the “old hospital” on Main Street and later on at the “new hospital” on South High Street. Being an RN in a small community hospital during those times meant that she worked in every clinical area including medical/surgical, pediatrics, maternity, emergency and coronary care. She would spend the rest of her professional life nursing there.
Even in her later years she would always meet women who would remember her helping to deliver their babies. She was a committed and caring nurse, fondly remembered by those she worked with, those she mentored and taught and most importantly, by those to whom she provided care, comfort and compassion. She would eventually retire during her husband’s illness to care for him prior to his death in 1979. During her retirement she enjoyed gardening, crocheting, quilting and traveling with friends and family. She was a communicant all her adult life of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Bridgton, having converted to Roman Catholicism when she married.
She was an active member of the Women’s Club until her health declined and she could no longer actively participate.She was a loving and devoted wife. She was the best mother and a wonderful “Nonna” to all her grandchildren. They all have their own special memories of their time spent with her. She always put her family’s needs before her own. Gerry was a loyal friend who enjoyed her friendships, which included former hospital coworkers who used to get together regularly. She was always willing to lend a helping hand. She loved taking care of people and being helpful.
She was predeceased by her parents; her only sister Winona Bennett; and her husband Carl in 1979.
She is survived by her three daughters, Sabina Gallinari of Bridgton, Martha Carpenter and her husband David of Danvers, Mass., and Kristina Schwartz and her husband Michael of Westbrook; her grandchildren, Joshua Carpenter and Jacob Carpenter both of Danvers, Mass., Carl P. Gallinari of Boston, Mass., Anna Schwartz of Portland, and Daniel Schwartz of Westbrook.
The family would like to thank the staffs of Casco Inn and Ledgewood Manor for their excellent care in the last years of Gerry’s life.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Joseph Church in Bridgton on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 11 a.m., followed by interment at Forest Hills Annex Cemetery. Family and friends may attend visitation on Friday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chandler Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, 8 Elm St., Bridgton.
In lieu of flowers, love your family and respect nurses. Online condolences may be shared with her family at www.chandlerfunerals.com