In memory of
Mary Ellen Compton Gasek
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In memory of
Mary Ellen Compton Gasek
Mary Ellen Compton Gasek 1925 - 2016 BALTIMORE - Mary Ellen Compton Gasek, wife, mother, gardener, painter, died quietly on Friday, August 5th, 2016, after a long illness. She was 90 years and 9 months old. Her grace, strength, good humor, willingness to laugh, and will to live through all her adversity were remarkable. She simply said she loved her family, and did not want to leave them. She lived long enough to see her first great-grandchild, Josephine ("Josie") Mary Gasek, born in July this year. Mrs. Gasek was born Mary Ellen Compton on October 19, 1925, in Montgomery, Alabama. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Columbus, Georgia, where she grew up with her brother, Shelby, nine aunts, and many cousins. She attended and graduated from Valdosta State College, with a BA in Humanities, and began to study watercolor painting and advertising lay-out at the University of Georgia. Then World War 2 intervened and she lost a fiance in southern France. At war's end, she met her husband-to-be, Stanley Paul Gasek, in Columbus at Fort Benning, where he was posted as an Episcopal chaplain with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was from Utica, New York, where he returned to become Rector of Grace Church - and courted Miss Compton from afar. They married in 1948, and Mary Ellen moved north to Utica. She had three sons, Paul, Shelby, and Thomas, and raised them, kept a house, and helped her clergyman husband run a very large downtown parish. She was the Rector's wife when such a thing was vocational. She extended her charm and skills as a hostess to everyone, from parishioners to visiting bishops, deans, and dignitaries. She belonged to the Grace Church Altar Guild, Hospital Guild, and was vice president and later president of the Junior League. She was well known and well liked in Utica. She never stopped painting, though child-rearing slowed it down, and continued to develop as a water colorist throughout her life, studying under Edward Christiana at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute in Utica. Over her career as an artist, she created a sizeable body of work, many of the watercolors hanging in the homes of her children, grandchildren, and friends to this day. Mary Ellen was always enterprising, adaptable, and willing to try new things. In 1958, she persuaded her husband to buy a little summer cottage on Cape Cod, in the Town of Brewster, which the family has visited and loved for almost 60 years. Sons, Paul and Shelby, now live on the Cape. In 1967, her husband received a sabbatical year and the family went to live in Rome, Italy, where she set up a comfortable home for the family, and reveled in the art and culture all around her. In 1987, the Rev. Dr. Gasek retired after 40 years as Rector of Grace Church and the Gaseks moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where Mary Ellen had relatives. They joined the Church of the Redeemer, where Dr. Gasek assisted the clergy. Mary Ellen's skill as a watercolorist advanced again, and she was invited to become a member of the Baltimore Water Color Society. In 2001, she and her husband moved to the Blakehurst retirement community. Stanley died the next August, and Mary Ellen continued to live, paint, and welcome her sons and their families' visits. She died 14 years almost to the day, after her husband. Looking back on her life, she said, "I have to stop and think sometimes about what a fine life I've had, and a fun one too! We all go through our trials, but my life really has been a fine one." She is survived by her three sons, S. Paul Gasek, Jr., of Brewster, MA, Shelby C. Gasek, of Harwich, MA, and Thomas D. Gasek, of Rochester, NY; three grandchildren, Marysia, Shelby, and Tyler; and one great-grandchild, Josie. A funeral service was held on Saturday, the 17th of September, at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore. On October 22, her sons will bring her ashes to Utica, to be interred next to her husband in a simple graveside service in Forest Hills Cemetery at 9 AM. The interment will be followed at 11 AM by a reception at the Fort Schuyler, where Paul, Shelby, and Tom Gasek will greet Utica friends and family.
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