Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Friend Gwen Lee

Gwen Lee McKeon
September 16, 1930 - July 25, 2014
My dear friend Gwen Lee slipped quietly into eternity a couple of Fridays ago.  She will be terribly missed by all who knew her.

A kind, generous and loving woman, Gwen Lee was a wife, mother and grandmother and stalwart member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Her services were held in the Pickering Ward chapel on Friday.

The funeral services were lovely. More than one person mentioned Gwen Lee's ability to make everything around her more beautiful.  It was her gift.

The guest register
I loved the beautiful photo of Gwen Lee that was used at the welcome table.  Gwen Lee was a truly beautiful woman, inside and out.

The vivacious Gwen Lee
The services were very well attended.  They had to open the over-flow area to the chapel - a testament to Gwen Lee's popularity and to a life well-lived.

This table held programs for the services
I think she would have approved of all the arrangements.

The flower sprays were gorgeous.
The flower sprays were just gorgeous.  I didn't get a chance to photograph all of them.  They were already carting them away by the time I got out my camera!

I also missed photographing Joey Anaya, who sang a beautiful rendition of "Consider the Lillies", and Jeri Anaya, who accompanied him.  Joey has a lovely voice.  What a lovely musical number it was.

I wasn't firing on all cylinders that day, I must admit.  Some deaths just hit you harder than others. Gwen Lee reminded me a lot of my mom - beautiful and so vibrantly alive that her passing, though not entirely unexpected, just knocked me for a loop, as they say.

Allison Fellars, Harpist
The services were enhanced a great deal by the talents of Allison, the harpist who provided the prelude and postlude music, in addition to playing a harp solo of "Love at Home" in the middle of the brief program.  I love harp music anyway, and she is a great talent.  You can see what a beautiful instrument she played in the above photo.  Those concert pedal harps are just incredible.

A quick snap-shot of the foyer packed with mourners
Ellen gave a touching eulogy.
Rhonda (l) drove down from Sacramento to attend.  Ellen Balke (r) gave a touching Eulogy.
Wendy directed the congregational singing.  It was good to see her again.  She and her siblings grew up with the McKeon family.
Wendy Arrington-Postil served as Music Director
Our dear Gwen Lee had a tough time the past 30 years, as her son Mark mentioned in his remarks. She survived a stroke, cancer and scores of other ailments that saw her often in the hospital.  Such was the case around Christmastime, when we went to serenade her and her husband Gerald.  At the time they were in separate rooms over at Whittier Presbyterian Hospital.

Gwen Lee in the hospital in December 2013
She wept as she heard us sing.  (So did he, bless his heart.)  And each was totally worried about the other.  They had a loving and strong partnership throughout their marriage.

Life wasn't always tough, though.  The photos below show Gwen Lee as a striking young lady posing with her brother in front of their California home.

I'm not sure when these were taken, but you can see that Gwen Lee was always the fashion plate!

On one of the last times Gwen Lee was able to attend church with her husband, I snapped these photos:

What?  Oh, look!  You've got a camera!
I love the look of surprise on their faces!  And then, Gerald turns just a bit to look at his beautiful wife and daughter Kim as they flash me their brightest smiles.

Say Cheese!
Gerald, at 92 and bedridden for most of the past year, was not able to attend his wife's services.  I know it won't be long before he goes to meet his beloved.  They, as a couple, were always so good to me.  I know that I'm not the only one who benefited from their generosity and many kindnesses.
I can only say that I will miss my dear friend Gwen Lee.  But my guess is that Heaven is a much lovelier place these days with Gwen Lee there to spruce it up.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Oh, what a lovely tribute for a lovely lady; my lifelong friend, Sister McKeon! The Whittier Sixth Ward members from the greatest generation (and the generation before that) are mostly now together in Paradise, aren't they? What an unbelievable reunion that must be!!