My mom’s memorial service is happening two weeks from today. We’ve delayed celebrating her life for more than two years due to Covid. But she is never far from my mind or my heart, especially now as I help plan the service.
After a dozen years of working closely with my dad as his executive assistant, she married him. She was 38 at the time and was used to being a highly competent single career woman, but she threw herself into marriage and motherhood—and soon, grand-motherhood, with enthusiasm, humor, and love. I was twelve when she married my dad, and I never took her for granted. It was beyond thrilling to have such a wonderful mother, and she remained my closest friend, other than my husband, until she passed away.
Here’s the bio for her that will appear in the memorial service program:
August 31, 1921- December 9, 2019
Gertrude Slaughter grew up on a farm in West Granby, Connecticut. She was extremely close to her parents and her older sister, Margaret, and often talked about her idyllic childhood. Her parents, Raymond and Emma Case, were strong believers in education and sent both of their girls to college. Gertrude attended Simmons College in Boston where she enjoyed playing bridge in “the smoker” (although she didn’t smoke) and received accolades for her outstanding writing. She graduated in 1943 as an English major. She got a kick out of being named “Miss Legs” of Simmons and was very proud of the fact that she was the first person in her class to get a job, traveling with Godfrey Dewey to demonstrate Dewey shorthand.
Her career continued at McGraw-Hill. For twelve years, she served as executive assistant to Robert Slaughter, who rose to become executive vice-president of the company. She left McGraw-Hill when she married Bob on March 5, 1960.
Always child-oriented and devoted to her nieces Betsy and Donna, Gertrude acquired three stepdaughters, Lucretia, Marty, and Lynn, and in the next three decades, seven grandchildren arrived. Gertrude loved having them visit and developed special relationships with each of her grandchildren.
Following Bob’s death in 1976, Gertrude returned to work, spending seven years serving as executive assistant to the president of Glyco, a chemical company. She also moved from Greenwich, Connecticut to a condominium at Ledgebrook in Norwalk, Connecticut. She made wonderful friends at Ledgebrook and at her church, the First Congregational Church of Darien. She was extremely active as a volunteer, not only at her church, but at nonprofits in her area, including volunteering at a homeless shelter. She also enjoyed traveling with dear friends and family members.
In her final years, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to be closer to her family. In her nineties, dementia robbed her of many of her memories, but her loving spirit, devotion to family, and wonderful sense of humor remained. She continues to live in the hearts and memories of all those who loved her and whose lives were touched by her.
After our mother passed away, Gertrude legally adopted my sisters and me. When she told the judge about becoming our stepmom, the judge looked at her and said, “That was a beautiful story.”
It really was, one for which I’ll always be grateful.