Gale Paxton, who until March 4, 2019, resided in Quilcene, WA, died on May 14, 2019 in Bonita Springs, FL at Joanne’s House at Hope Hospice after a brief battle with stage four lung cancer. Gale wanted to be near his eldest daughter as he progressed in years, so he made the decision in February 2019 to leave his beloved Pacific Northwest, neither of them realizing he had so little time left on this planet.
Gale was the eldest of two boys born to Ernest Sullivan and Ruby (Klutts) Paxton in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The Paxton family moved to Southern California when Gale was eight years old. He played fiddle in a country-western band in his teen years and worked construction beside his father and in his parents’ restaurant business after school and during the summers. Before graduating from Lancaster High School, he was introduced to JoAnn Riley through Gale and JoAnn’s best friends on a blind date. Gale and JoAnn were married on February 26, 1954.
After being honorably discharged from the US Air Force, Gale began his career as a draftsman with Lockheed Propulsion. He quickly rose to the position of mechanical design engineer, without a college degree. He worked for several propulsion companies in the Western states, ending his career with Boeing in Seattle, WA.
One of Gale’s passions was car racing, and he enjoyed this activity until he realized that he might leave his young family without a husband and father. He watched car races on the television at every opportunity and had LPs of Indy 500 races he played more often than the rest of the family were interested in.
Gale taught his two daughters a compassion for all living beings, the value of honesty, hard work, reliability, dependability, and integrity. He took his family on camping trips whenever his schedule allowed, planning for the long-term by banking his vacation time until he had four weeks saved and could take his family on a trip from Southern California up to Mt. Shasta, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Rain Forest, and back down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California.
After attending a medicine wheel gathering on Mt. Rainier in the early 1990s, Gale, who already felt connected to the small bit of Native American heritage in his ancestry, embraced a path of Native American spirituality. After the death of JoAnn in November of 1997, Gale began making journeys to Native American Powwows and met many on a similar path. He traveled across Canada and then back across the US visiting various sites of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. He learned the art of Native American drum making and shared this gift with others in Eastern Jefferson County. It was his plan to share his gift of drum making in Southwest Florida. Unfortunately, he ran out of time.
Gale continued to be active in the daily operations of Colorwaves, Inc., based in Quilcene until he moved to Ft. Myers, FL. After moving to Calusa Harbour Senior Living Community, he met many of the residents in the 20-story complex within a matter of weeks. Always willing to have a chat and share stories, he wormed his way into the hearts of the Calusa Harbour staff and residents in no time at all. Gale was highly thought of by all who met him, from a young boy to the last weeks of his life. Gale certainly had his opinions. Country-Western music ceased to exist after the 1970s, and they haven’t made any decent movies since “Gone with the Wind.” Yet, he was always willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. He was able to admit when he was wrong. He was a man of his word. He loved deeply.
Gale is survived by his two daughters, Cáitlín O’Reilly (Tom Small) of Estero, FL, formerly of Port Townsend, WA, and Lori Paxton of Blue Springs, MO; two grandchildren, Travis of Loganville, GA and JoAnna of Blue Springs, MO; and four great-grandchildren.
Gale’s ashes were spread over the Puget Sound where the ashes of JoAnn, the love of his life, were spread, and now, they are together once again.