Gwen learned to play the piano at an early age and continued to study and perform classical music all of her life.
She met her partner, Pat Britt, when they were counselors at a Girl Scout camp in San Diego County. They talked all night and were together for 70 years.
Much of Gwen’s life was devoted to music — learning, teaching, and performing. But she also had a 20-year career in computer development at a time most people had never heard of computers. Travel, writing, animals and the improvement of houses and gardens also occupied much of her time.
Gwen and Pat went to Africa 12 times, as well as to the Galapagos Islands, the Peruvian Amazon, Central America and the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Silk Route through Pakistan and China, Mongolia, Russia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, and Israel. But often when talking about the next trip, Gwen would say “If we are going to spend all that money, we might as well go to Africa.”
After they moved from Los Angeles to Marrowstone Island, Gwen started a number of projects — teaching piano, giving two "Coffee Concerts" a week as well as "Cookie Concerts" for children, publishing a literary journal (Pangolin Papers), hosting a weekly writers’ group and a monthly poetry group, providing scholarships for young musicians, and running a chamber orchestra that played three times a year, pairing talented students with professionals, and giving students the opportunity to play a movement of a concerto with an orchestra.
Remembering her, nearly everyone spoke of her smile, her laugh, her love of life and her kindness. The comment from a man who had known her since he was in his teens summed it up nicely: “Oh, dang. Well, that was a long and boldly lived life.”
Her life had many facets. A one-time boss wrote: “Yes, her laugh and her love of life — in all of its forms. But she was a superb, tough and gentle organizer of people when a complex, technical project had to be managed. It’s not a part of her character that many of her friends are aware of, and she did it with flair and lots of laughter.”
The father of three of her students said, “Gwen was one of the very few people of whom I can honestly say, she changed my life. And not only my life, but the life of my whole family. None of my three younger children would be who they are today without those wonderful years with Gwen. Her musical instruction was important of course, but not nearly as important as her passion for it, her wonderful way of nurturing them, her kindness and generosity, her encouragement and affirmation, her complete joyful spirit. And, as parents, we benefited from that and from spending time with Gwen ourselves.”
Gwen wrote a number of books, two of which have been published: "Destination Galapagos," her account of flying from Los Angeles to the islands and back in a single engine plane, and "The Serpent’s Tooth, A Murder Mystery," which she and Pat wrote together over the years, learning to write fiction in the process. Two or three more books are finished and will be published as e-books.
Gwen leaves a hole in life for her partner and for her many friends. She will be sorely missed.