Gayle Lillian McDowell Stetson died in Lake Forest on October 29. A private person, and a traditional woman of her generation, she would never have revealed her age and vehemently refused whenever asked.
Her generation grew up in the Roaring Twenties, experienced the Great Depression – though she herself insisted she lacked for nothing – and watched young men go off to the Second World War. After graduating from her upper Midwestern home-town college in Fargo, ND, all was upbeat Big Band jazz. It was then she met John, a tall, MIT-educated ensign with movie-star good looks and sense of humor, and life became advancement and adventure. They believed they were indeed the “Greatest Generation” and were blessed with good health and good fortune.
Gayle became mother to three cooperative children and wife to a business executive whose curiosity and business acumen took them all over the country and world. She reveled in John’s success and enjoyed making new homes from Winnetka to Teheran, San Marino CA, Houston, Aspen, a Watergate penthouse, a Lake Shore Drive address, and ultimately Lake Forest.
They learned to ski, became enthusiastic collectors of the art of their generation, and avidly supported orchestras wherever they lived, especially the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for which John served as Life Trustee. Gayle had a terrific singing voice, a great sense of style and an eye for decorating and renovating, in which she was able to indulge at each successive residence. Cooking was also a passion to the extent of accepting galley duties on Lake Michigan weekends and farther ports while sailing bareboat.
Her husband, The Honorable John Charles Stetson, and older daughter, Sherry Stetson Harms, predeceased her. Survivors include her son Robert (Cynthia Stetson) Stetson, her daughter Susan (Dr. Alan David Vertrees) Stetson Vertrees, grandchildren Curt Harms, Dr. Chess (Jennifer Crucius Stetson) Stetson, Greta Stetson, Kathleen Stetson, Alexander (Emily Finlay Vertrees) Vertrees, and Peter Vertrees, and great-grandchildren Bruce Stetson, Hugh Stetson and Lee Stetson.
Info: Wenban Funeral Home, (847)234-0022 or www.wenbanfh.com