Gail Butler Lipparelli
Gail Butler Lipparelli was joyously celebrating her 77th birthday with family on Saturday. She was sparkling and laughing and loving as always. Gail’s Earthly bonds were untied on Sunday July 8 and she was freed to explore the heavens. Gail’s way of making her family and friends feel so completely loved makes her sudden departure a struggle to bear. Gail’s presence in our lives is assured, but now just different.
Gail was born in Elko, Nevada to William Allan “Al” Butler and Ruth Beth Thorpe Butler in 1941. She was a great student, a musician, a cheerleader, quiet leader and a beauty. Gail loved music all her life, but least of all the music of the 1940s. The Big Band sound reminded her of the hard times of her youth when her dad was serving overseas, and Gail and her mom were living on rationed wartime supplies with Gail’s grandparents.
The love of Gail’s grandmother, Lettie Thorpe, buoyed her. Gail collected Lettie’s grandmotherly gifts and paid them to her own grandchildren and her nieces and nephews. Ask Briana, Ryan, Chandler, Anna, Grace or Angelo about “G-ma’s” tickles, treats, chats and hugs. They are gifts that will live on.
At Elko High School Gail met Harry Andrew Lipparelli. The romance of the Mormon, English/Danish girl and the Catholic, Italian boy didn’t thrill everyone in their families. Harry left for college in 1957 and Gail tried studying at Brigham Young University in 1959. But, love endured and they were soon reunited at the University of Nevada. They married in 1961. Gail said it was because Harry smelled like garlic and Old Spice. For 36 years their unlikely union was the center of a vibrant extended family.
With their college degrees in hand and a baby boy, Paul, in tow Gail and Harry returned to Elko. Soon after, while Harry was serving in Viet Nam, Angela was born. Later came Gail’s youngest, Mark.
With the kids in school, Gail went to work. She started the first Head Start program in Nevada and managed a nursery school. Her love of children her own and those of others has always shone.Life in Elko was simple and sweet. The kids walked to Northside Elementary and home. Gail drove around town in old grey-grey (none of us wore seatbelts) and treated the kids to root beer and Baby Burgers at A&W. A job offer for Harry in 1971 moved the family to Carson City.
Gail and Harry loved their lives in the rural part of Carson where many friendships were made. From the front porch Gail blew the referee’s whistle and the kids ran home through the sagebrush to eat. The mid-1970s were tough economic times for a teacher and a state worker and on a tight food budget Gail’s creativity was put to the test. Except for that one potato chip casserole, she succeeded. While raising her kids in Carson City, Gail taught at Corbett Elementary School. Her teacher buddies, the school staff and many of her students became lifelong friends. They could all testify about her talents, listening-skills and kindness. Later, Gail helped establish and run the Talented and Gifted Program in the Carson Schools.She was ahead of her time and always innovating new ways of learning.
With their kids in college Gail and Harry moved to Las Vegas. It was not the small town life they had always known. They adjusted to air conditioning, suffered burglaries, bought a Lincoln and retired. Gail spent many independent years in Las Vegas after Harry died in 1997. While she took great care of her mother Beth, Gail took on new challenges. She studied herbal medicine, joined Toastmasters and a reading club. More recently , she joined a writing club which inspired her to author a book soon to be published. Gail’s ability to connect heart-to-heart with others grew many friendships and her pursuits were outlets for her curious mind. She never ceased wanting a deeper understanding of life and the universe.She loved crystals, aromas, ancient things, and QVC—yes, that shopping channel —but mostly she loved.
Gail’s love and affection for her brother Dennis Butler and her sister Julie Butler taught us all how to be good brothers and sisters. Brother Denny, being 6 years younger, was Gail’s “tag-a-long” and Gail served as a life mentor to Julie who is 15 years younger. Gail, Denny and his wife Cathy were known to pull pranks on each other, to visit each other often and to laugh a lot. Gail, Julie and Cathy shared a bond around spirituality and mysterious things. As witnesses to their discoveries and gentleness, our hearts and minds are more open—yet another gift.
When life challenged her loved ones, Gail was the soft landing pad. We sought her unending supply of strength fed by a river of pure love. A visit, a weekend, or a call with Gail would clear away clouds, remove seeds of doubt, and send us down a path we did not see ourselves. She taught us never to give in to strife. Those lessons are now in each of us.
Gail is survived by Paul and Carrie, Angela and Ron, Mark and Carmen and their children. Brother Dennis and Cathy Butler and their children Rory and Lindsay, sister Julie Butler and Kevin Taylor and their children Brooke, Rayna and Nolen, survive her. Gail’s nieces and nephews were like her own children and very precious to her.
Memorial services are in Elko at Burns Memorial Garden at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 16, 2018. The family would most appreciate honoring Gail with support of education, in lieu of flowers. Our suggestion is: in memory of Gail Lipparelli to the Univeristy of Nevada, Reno Foundation, Morrill Hall/0162, Reno, Nevada 89557-0162 or by calling (775) 682-2564.
G-ma, we find it difficult that we are without your Earthly presence, so we are gathering and comforting each other. Late last night during the Vegas Valley thunderstorms we jumped in the pool and splashed and laughed and hooted, but of course, you already knew that. We will be watching for signs that you have cruised by our world in your new mothership—no seatbelts needed. Blow the whistle when you can.