She's gone, Gerry, the
love of my life, my dearly beloved wife for 57 years. It's difficult at this time of deep mourning for me to think of
Gerry except in the context of our long and extremely happy life together and great devotion to each other, difficult to think
of Gerry as anything but a loving partner who shared my life for so long
our relationship aside, let me don my journalist's hat to objectively note that
Gerry was long one of the key leaders in the often extraordinary efforts of active and retired teachers and other
public employees to win, secure and expand their rights and benefits.
died in San Francisco on March 4 at 77 after a brief struggle with cancer. She was most recently chair
of the 900-member retired division of the local teachers' union, the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) and co-chair
of the Protect Our Benefits Committee (POB) that advocates for retired teachers and retired public employees generally.
Gerry was particularly effective in advocating for the local Health Service System (HSS)
and insisting that it provide workers the health care they required. It was a very difficult task to which she devoted most
of her time after retiring in 2001 from the social studies teaching post she had held with distinction at San Francisco's
Washington High School for nearly 40 years. She had taught more than 7000 students and generously mentored
scores of new teachers.
She played a major role in passing
the ballot initiative that defined the HSS as a separate and thus much more effective agency in 2004 and went on to become
a valued advisor to each HSS director and to the many retirees who sought her help
Gerry also was a leader in political campaigns involving ballot initiatives. She led the way to victory for several
important worker-friendly measures and to the defeat of several that she and her fellow activists and their allies thought
harmful to the general public as well as to teachers, students and retirees.
who modestly described her work as "doing what needs to be done," was an exceptionally popular teacher and leader.
Her death drew dozens of messages from students, her fellow teachers and others praising and thanking her
for her life's work and for leaving behind an invaluable legacy.
described Gerry as overwhelmingly concerned about others, always giving, but never taking; loyal; highly competent
and knowledgeable, tenacious, dynamic, brilliant, truly inspirational.
Gerry's work, conducted with integrity, grace, warmth and compassion, made her a force for truth and justice
throughout her lifetime and an inspirational guide for those who follow. We are fortunate she lived among
us, and I am especially fortunate that she lived her extraordinary life with me.
(c) 2013 Dick Meister