Gail (Miller) Dransfield

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Gail Dransfield, 70
CAPE ELIZABETH - Gail Dransfield lived a rich and beautiful life.
Gail died on Sept. 2, 2017, at her home in Cape Elizabeth. Despite living the last 12 years of her life with many challenges to her health, she always acted as if this announcement would not be needed.
The richness of Gail's life was the love she shared with family and friends. Gail was born to Arthur and Louise Miller on April 3, 1947. Her father, a Merchant Marine captain, was at sea during a gale when she was born. In the early 1950s, Art left the sea and built an auto court motel in Stowe, Vt. Many of Gail's early happy memories are of her life there with her three sisters, Roberta, Karen, and Beth. Her father returned to the Merchant Marine when she was 10 years old, and the family moved to Huntington, N.Y. That is where she graduated from high school and made Doug Dransfield notice how special she was. After graduating from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., she became an elementary school teacher. Doug and Gail married on June 27, 1970. While Doug was in medical school, Gail taught in Tenafly, N.J., and completed a master's in education at City College in New York. During this time, Gail's parents purchased property in Cushing, Maine, as their eventual retirement home. The family moved there in 1971, and that home, known to all by the big red barn with the large anchor and "Homeport" sign, became the focus for Gail's extended family life. In 1975, Gail and Doug moved to Zuni, N.M., where Gail taught school to Zuni children, some of whom came to school by horseback and needed a teacher's aid to translate the lessons. Gail and Doug had two sons. In 1976, while living in Zuni, Matthew was born. In 1979, after the family had moved to Philadelphia, Peter was born. Fortunately, Gail's mother had shown her how to cope as a wife and mother when her father was at sea, because Doug's hospital duties would regularly make him absent for more than a day at a time.
Life in Maine started in 1981 with a move to Cape Elizabeth. Gail raised her two sons and supported her parents through their illnesses for the next 20 years. Family life was further enriched by her sons becoming husbands and fathers. Matthew married Hannah Conant in 2002, and they have two children. Levert was born in 2007, and Nina in 2011. Matthew's family lives in Huntington, Vermont. Peter married Bridget O'Connor in 2016 and later that year their daughter, Rose, was born. Peter's family lives in South Portland. Being the mother of successful and happy adult sons, the mother-in-law to two wonderful women, and grandmother to three precious grandchildren, was the ultimate pleasure for Gail.
The richness of friendship was also a gift that Gail enjoyed. College friends held regular reunions with Gail. She was a member of a book group in Cape Elizabeth that has met continuously for over 30 years. Knitting provided another group of friends with whom Gail met most Tuesday afternoons. They helped her to "knit on, with confidence and hope through all crises." Spring, summer, and early fall were the times for Gail to be in her flower garden. She loved seeing the succession of color and was always happy to be in the dirt making improvements.
The beauty of Gail's life was her total willingness to be a friend and to help when needed. Many knew Gail for her notes and cards and for the many ways she reached out to celebrate and support and remember others. Gail was a regular volunteer in the Cape Elizabeth schools for the years her sons attended them. She also was elected to a term on the Cape Elizabeth School Board. Gail was an elder at the First Congregational Church in South Portland. She served many, many roles there, not the least of which was as acting director of Christian Education for a time in the 1980s. Additionally, she served on many boards and committees and supervised the church's emergency food pantry for 14 years.
Music had always been part of the beauty in Gail's life. Encouraged by her grandfather, she had begun as a young child to play the violin. She played in orchestras throughout her high school and college years. Once her sons were off to college, a new direction in her music developed when she began playing fiddle tunes and exploring the culture of traditional Maine fiddle music. Gail became enthusiastic about fiddle music when she began studying with Don Roy, a Maine Arts Commission Artist Fellowship Award winner. In 2003, Don Roy and his students formed the group "Fiddle-iscious." Gail was an original member, and for 10 years, she volunteered as the instructor for beginners, helping others share her joy in playing. It was this group and the fellowship of musicians that enabled her to "rosin up her bow and fiddle on." Her family and friends have learned from her to do just that to celebrate her life in theirs.
A funeral service will be held at the First Congregational Church, 301 Cottage Rd., South Portland, on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. A celebration of Gail's life will follow at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth.

Gail asked that after her death, any memorial gifts should be given to support the Community Crisis Ministry of First Congregational Church or for medical care and research for the treatment of ovarian cancer at either Maine Medical Center or Dana Farber Cancer Institute. When making a memorial gift, please indicate that it is in memory of Gail Dransfield and the family contact person is Doug Dransfield.
Addresses for memorial gifts are:
First Congregational Church
Attn: Community Crisis Ministry
301 Cottage Road
South Portland, ME 04106
Maine Medical Center
Development Office
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME 04102
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Attn: Contribution Services
10 Brookline Place West 6th Floor
Brookline, MA 04225

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Funeral Home
HOBBS FUNERAL HOME
230 COTTAGE RD
South Portland, ME 04106-3802
(207) 799-4472
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Sept. 7, 2017
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