I first met Gloria O'Grady at a town event. Gloria represented the Marshfield Historical Society at one outdoor table; I staffed another to promote the good work of Sowing Seeds. The second time we met was at a similar event. It was well below freezing, but Gloria, decades older than the rest of us, didn't seem to mind. She had a task to complete, and stayed for the whole event while others folded early. On yet another bitterly cold day we met again at a town event. This time she told me that my fully decorated table was hers. No, I explained I had brought it from home. She insisted that someone had brought it down and set it up for her. She set herself up on one half of my table. Gloria had a way of getting things done.
We met many times again. On one ninth day of June, we both attended an anniversary celebration of the Molly Fitzgerald Memorial Fund's dedication of their generous gift of Dandelion Park to the town. After the beautiful ceremony Gloria announced that it was her birthday; it was mine as well. (Later we found out it was Bud Francis', too.) Gloria and I headed to Cravings for an impromptu joint birthday celebration.
A few years later, as Gloria approached her 85th birthday, I asked her what plans she had. "None," she replied. So, the Marshfield Tavern reserved the function room and I posted on Facebook (blocking Gloria) and invited others to join us in a surprise dinner for her. I had no idea how many people to expect. The attendees filled the large square of tables spread throughout the room. People spoke of her kind heart, her bridge game, and her many volunteer efforts – especially with the Marshfield Historical Society and the Marshfield Emergency Operations Command center.
Gloria was never one to give up. Her volunteer work with the Marshfield Historical Society spanned many decades, including her 30+ years as its treasurer. Hats off to the many members there who watched after her when she was left with no Marshfield or nearby family. She also counted very caring neighbors as her great friends. As we know, they looked out for her as well.
Gloria was like that relative you see at family reunions. The one who has led a rich life overcoming many obstacles yet always plows ahead. The one with stories of yore – many stories of yore – that spark twinkles in his or her eyes as she tells of days and events gone by. Like that relative, Gloria could tell you something about yourself that others might find critical. But Glo was actually looking out for you, not criticizing. She was direct and always wanted to help.
Gloria is said to have shot a mean game of pool, too.
A few years ago I needed models for a portion of my CPP certification exam (as a Certified Professional Photographer with PPA). Gloria eagerly showed up at my studio with several freshly laundered and ironed changes of clothes. That was Gloria: eager to help, and following through with her offers.
I also had a photo shoot in the Marcia Thomas House, home of the Marshfield Historical Society. The first image on this posting is of Gloria there.
Rest in peace, Gloria. We're a better and richer town because of your many contributions. Thank you.