Gladys Bleakley Lawrence - In Memoriam
by Glenn Weiser


On Oct 8, 2008, my mother, Gladys Bleakley Lawrence, passed away at 83 in Tuxedo, NY. The following day I wrote her obituary and eulogy, both of which are below. The obituary was published in the Times Herald-Record of Rockland County, NY on Oct 10.

Gladys Bleakley Lawrence of Tuxedo, NY
Glenn Weiser

Gladys Bleakley Lawrence, 83, of Tuxedo, NY, an accomplished registered nurse, musician, and world traveler, passed away at her home on October 8, 2008 after a long illness.

The last of three children of Robert and Edith Bleakley of Lisburn, County Down, Northern Ireland, Gladys was born on March 27, 1925. She came with her parents to America as a small child and was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1943, she married the late Howard W. Weiser, an aeronautical engineer with the Curtis Wright Corporation of Woodbridge, NJ. Living for many years in Glen Rock, NJ, Howard and Gladys raised four children: Constance, Patricia, Glenn, and Douglas. Gladys was a homemaker until her mid thirties, when she went to Bergen Pines Nursing School in Paramus, NJ where she graduated head of her class at age 40. She later went on to earn a master's degree in nursing from Manhattan College in New York City.

She began her nursing career at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ, and later on worked at St Luke's Hospital in New York City. Afterwards, she taught nursing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY.

In addition to her nursing career, Gladys was an avid world traveler and sightseer whose many peregrinations over the years brought her to most of the globe's desirable tourist destinations. She was also a gifted amateur pianist with a love of old Tin Pan Alley tunes, and an alto in various choral groups.

Her marriage to Howard Weiser ended in divorce, as did a second, brief marriage to Kenneth Lawrence, a professor of engineering at Manhattan College. Her third marriage, to Lester Goldstein, a nuclear engineer with the Stoller Corporation, ended with her husband's death in 2006.

Gladys is survived by two sons, Glenn Weiser of Glenmont, NY and Douglas Weiser of Monsey, NY, and two daughters, Connie Sohodski of Ruby, NY and Patricia Iyer of Stockton, NJ. In addition, she is survived by a brother, Albert Bleakley of Fayetteville, NC, and her grandchildren: Matthew Myczack of Springhill, TN, Shoshanna Guiet of London, England, Raja Iyer of New Dehli, India, Nathan Iyer of Whitehouse Station, NJ, and Andrew Giammattei of Delmar, NY. She is also survived by a son-in-law, Raj Iyer of Stockton, NJ, and two-daughters-in-law, Patricia Weiser of Glenmont, NY and Joyce Kessinger of Ruby, NY. Her older brother, Harold Bleakley, passed away in 2003.

Her family wishes to thank the many members of her book club and her choral group who gave her so much support and comfort in her final years.

Visiting hours will be from for 2 to 4 p.m. today, Friday, October 10 at the Wanamaker and Carlough Funeral Home, 177 Rt. 59, Suffern, NY, followed by a funeral service there at 7 p.m. Her family will have a private burial ceremony at the Buckingham Friends Meetinghouse churchyard in Lahaska, PA the next day.

Donations may be made in Gladys' name to United Hospice of Rockland County, 11 Stokum Lane, New City, NY 10956. Also, remembrances of Gladys can be posted on the Internet Web site www.mem.com under the name of Gladys Lawrence.

Gladys Bleakley Lawrence-Eulogy
Delivered at her funeral 10/08/08
Glenn Weiser

As many of you know, my mom was an avid sightseer who visited most of the world’s desirable tourist destinations. She always sent me postcards from those far-flung spots, and I saved them, knowing that some day she would not be here. Sadly, that day has arrived.

Many of Mom’s friends from her book club, as well as her fellow choral singers, are here with us today. So first, I want to thank them for their unflagging support of Mom during her bereavement upon the death of her husband Les, and later, during her final illness. You all have gratitude of our entire family.

Readers such as Mom and her friends always love a good story, and I have one about Mom and her family I’ll share with you now. Mom once told me she was believer in Fate, and this is a strange case in point. One day in the fall of 1973 I went with some friends to the seaside town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where my English grandmother Edith-my mother’s mother-was living. My buddies went off to beach while I dropped in on grandma, whose birthday it happened to be. Over tea at her kitchen table, she told me the following tale: When she was 18 and living in Putney, a suburb of London famous for its annual regatta between the Cambridge and Oxford University rowing teams, she went to see a gypsy fortune teller, who told her that she would take short trip across the water, and then a long trip across the water, after which she would not return to England.  
         Some time afterwards, she was sitting at home in her second-story flat when she saw a handsome man walking on the street below. She turned to her mother, pointed him out, and announced that this was the man she was going to marry.

Edith was right. The handsome stranger, a shy young fellow from Northern Ireland named Robert Bleakley, soon turned up as the organist in her church, and he couldn’t understand why my grandmother was so crazy about him. But grandma got her man, and the two were married and returned to Northern Ireland. There they had three children, including Mom. That was the short trip across the water.

            Times got tough in Ulster, though, so in the mid 1920s my grandfather had to leave Northern Ireland and take his family to Pennsylvania, where his brother had already established himself. That was the long trip across the water. Grandpa found work, prospered, and the couple never went back to England except for a brief visit in their later years. The gypsy’s prophecy proved true.

            But now I must move on to the substance of my eulogy- the qualities for which I will always remember my mother. The first of these was her optimism. You may know the difference, for example, between an optimistic kid and a pessimistic one-the pessimistic kid sits in a roomful of new toys and cries because he is afraid they will break if he tries to play with them, while the optimistic kid sits in a room full of horse manure, starts shoveling down to the floor, and exclaims, “There’s got to be a pony under here somewhere.” Mom was that kind of optimist. No matter what happened, she always believed things would turn out OK, and the good times would roll again. And for the most part, in her life, they did. Even recently, she was telling my brother the economy would get bounce back, and all would be well again. Let’s hope she was right. The example of Mom’s optimism has proved invaluable to me during the challenges I have had to face in my life, and for that I thank her.

The second quality for which will I hold my mother’s memory dear was her strength. She firmly believed in the power of love and had to endure two divorces before finding a man with whom she felt compatible. More grimly, she showed great strength in the 12 year battle with cancer that she finally lost this week. I’d call her up when she was suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy and ask her how she felt. Okay, she would say, but I knew it wasn’t true. She was made of stern stuff, and again, her example has helped my through the hard times we all must weather in this life.

Finally there was her wisdom. When I was a child and my first day of school came, she knew I hoping, as any kid would, to make new friends. She gave me two gems of advice that day which I’ll never forget: first, “If you want to make a friend, be a friend.” And second, “Your friend is the one who knows your faults but likes you anyway.” Those maxims were perhaps the best guidance on the subject of friendship a child of my age ever could have gotten.

           But now Mom is gone from the earth. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ arose from his tomb on Easter Sunday to teach the world that, in the words of a famous bluegrass song, “Death is only a dream” The spirit, it is my conviction, never perishes. We only weep today because our mortal eyes cannot see that land where Mom’s soul has found peace. If the words of Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Sri Krishna, Lao Tzu, and all the other great saints and sages of history are to be believed, this world of pain and sorrow is naught but a veil drawn across the face of the immortal God to whom all our souls will ultimately return. As we mourn our loss and remember Mom’s long and full life today, from this let us take comfort.

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