McInnis & Holloway
Funeral Homes

McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes
“The opportunity to serve” is the highest compliment
McInnis & Holloway could receive.
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Gilchrist James, Gayle

Gayle Marlene Gilchrist James passed away on Friday, May 30, 2008 at the age of 68 years with close family members by her side. Gayle met lymphoma and death as she lived her life; carefully researched, discussed at length and then accepted the outcome with a calm dignity and a touch of black humour. Born April 15, 1940 in rural Alberta, she attended a one room school taught by her father, high school in Castor and on to the University of Alberta (BA English 1962) and University of Toronto (BSW 1963, MSW 1966). Gayle was predeceased by her parents, Lela (Greenwalt) and Don Gilchrist, her brother, Don, her sister, Norma, and her beloved canine, Lady. She will be missed by her brother, Garry (Elly) Victoria, BC; her nieces and nephews, Debby Dobson (Ed Hall), Becky Dobson, Melanie Dobson (Graeme Rocker) all of Nova Scotia, Kim Dobson (Ramona Kraemer) of Ontario; Laura, Jacqueline and Nicole Gilchrist of Victoria; she will also be missed by her grand-nieces, nephews and god children, Karen, Esther, Alex, Chris, Sarah, Emily, Adam, Patrick, Zac, Linda, Ben, Erin and Sean; as well as her great-grandnephew, Nahze; honorary aunt, Jean Peeters of Victoria, BC; as well as by Dr. K.W. James. She started her social work career with the Alberta Child Guidance Clinic before joining the Education Clinic, Edmonton Public School Board in 1967 and then the University of Calgary, the Faculty of Social Work in Edmonton in 1975 before moving to Calgary in 1994 and retiring as Associate Professor Emerita in 2004. While working with students with learning disabilities and their families, she developed a consummate passion for public issues that led to a life-long involvement in social advocacy and public policy. Her dedication to social work and inspirational leadership was legendary, holding many professional association positions, first as Registrar (1974-1977), President (1979-1981) and Treasurer (1996-98) of the Alberta Association of Social Workers and President of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (1981-83). Gayle’s international leadership began in 1978 and was capped by being elected Canada’s first President of the International Federation of Social Workers (1988-1992). She was instrumental in Canada hosting the first world social work conference in 1984 and the establishment of the IFSW Human Rights Commission in 1988 to advocate for missing, wrongfully detained and tortured social workers and students. Appointed by the Prime Minister to Chair the National Council of Welfare (1986-1989), she was the senior NGO delegate on the Minister of Health and Welfare’s social policy mission to the Republic of China and the only woman and only NGO member of Canada’s delegation to the UN Welfare Ministers Inter-Regional Consultation on Developmental Social Welfare in 1987. She was a founding member of the Edmonton Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family (CRILF), Canadian Social Work Foundation, Weiler Award Trust; long time board member of the Canadian Council of Social Development and International Council of Social Welfare, Canada; and member of Kings College Circle, University of Toronto. Her many honours included an Alberta Achievement Award (Excellence Category), Exemplary Contribution Award (Alberta Association of Social Workers), 75th Anniversary Award (University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work), Outstanding National Service Award (Canadian Association of Social Workers), Teaching Excellence Award (University of Calgary), Arbor Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service (University of Toronto), inaugural Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol Medal (International Federation of Social Workers) and Lifetime Achievement Award (Pulse of Social Work, Calgary). Gayle was an inspiration and beloved mentor to countless students, colleagues, friends and family. She was uncompromising in her support of students and an incisive media commentator on social policy issues. Unphased by her illness in her final years, she devoted untold hours of volunteer expert witness testimony to help victims of eugenic sterilizations win a landmark class action settlement. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, those touched by Gayle may forget her exact words or the specifics of what she did, but they will never forget how special she made them feel. A special thank you to Dr. T. Thaell, Dr. E. Liu, and to the staff at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for the excellent care they provided to Gayle over the last seven years. A Memorial Celebration of Gayle’s Life will be held at the Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary, on Monday, July 14, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. A reception will follow. Forward condolences through In lieu of flowers, donations may be made directly to the charity of your choice or to the Gayle Gilchrist Gold Medal Development Fund, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, PF3256 2500 University Drive N.W. Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4 Phone: 1 (403) 220-5942 Fax: 1 (403) 282-7269 E-mail: In living memory of Gayle Gilchrist James, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403) 243-8200.

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  1. I had Gail as a professor during my undergrad degree program in Education in the 1990s (I graduated from U of C in 1999). She inspired me, she touched my life, she showed me possibilities- of who I could be and what I could do. I am currently completing a Masters in Counseling and referenced Gail not that long ago in a journal I was writing- she was a woman I wanted to be, who I still want to be when I grow up. I just came across her passing online- and I am so saddened. Her impact and influence on my life continues still. Thank you Gail.

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