Yesterday, around 5:00p.m. Gail Walton, beloved director of the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir, coordinator of the Basilica Choirs, wife and mother passed from this vale of tears after a battle with leukemia at the age of 55.
It's difficult to begin to write about Gail. She was an amazing and wonderful woman, so selfless and tireless.
As Director of Music at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame, a position she held since 1988, Gail was extremely influential in liturgical music. She was an excellent musician, married to another wonderful musician, ND organ professor Craig Cramer. They were "the cutest couple" in everyone's eyes - especially when they played dual organ recitals.
Gail was everyone's second mom. She was always looking out for you, but she never looked out for her self. Last year she hurt her foot - falling off a stool if I remember correctly. The doctors told her the foot had to rest and be in its boot until it healed. But how do you play organ with a boot on your foot? So she took it off. I scolded her after one of our rehearsals (she was not only director of the Liturgical Choir, but assistant director of the Women's Liturgical Choir to which I belong) and told her she had to take care herself. She laughed and said she'd be ok. That was Gail. Our head director visited her just before Christmas. The doctors had allowed her to return home for a period, so long as she was strictly on bedrest. Was Gail following the doctors' orders? Of course not. She was baking, trimming the tree and doing all manner of things around the house. That was Gail. She was a such a wonderful woman...Absolutely unstoppable.
She was a perfectionist too and always drove us to be the best we could be. Everyone loved Gail. She will be missed so much - she already is. It's hard to believe she's gone.
Please take a moment to pray for Gail and her family, especially her husband. This has been so difficult for him.
Requiescat in pace.
In Paradisum deducant angeli...Chorus angelorum te suscipiat...Aeternam habeas requiem.
Gail conducts the Liturgical Choir in a 2008 concert:
(The Mawby Ave Verum (at the 5:20 mark) is one of my favorites)
Update: I've expanded this post over the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies. Funeral details are posted here. Thank you for your continued prayers for Gail and her family. Please remember the Notre Dame community, particularly the Choirs as well.