Gale was not just an Elder of the church but also a really good friend to me; that is, he offered wise counsel, honest feedback, support when needed and always with a sense of humour. Gale was a realist and a pragmatist – if it didn’t work the first time, then there had to be a better way, and together with the Elders we would find it. He was also a practical man – a solver of problems. If we needed a screen in the church, then he would devise an ingenious way of fixing it so that it was unobtrusive when not in use, but very visible when needed. And I always looked forward to the hockey ‘musical chairs’ which he devised for church New Year parties – lots of laughter and lots of bruises!
Gale had a strong liberal Christian faith. His contributions to Bible Study sessions were always thoughtful and thought provoking. In so many ways Gale helped to shape my ministry, and for that I will always be grateful.
When we had a church party he would bring out this game, Indoor Hockey which he had invented, with bits of wood and sticks. I never liked playing it but it was very ingenious!
He was always very keen on keeping the church premises and grounds in good order so he would arrange for a working party to help him put polish on the hall floors during the summer months, using special large application brushes which he had devised. I remember one occasion when he persuaded several of us to help him cut all the ivy down from the sides of the Russell Road path and pack all the cuttings into large plastic sacks – quite a task.
When I agreed to become Church Secretary in 2009, not having much idea of what it all entailed, Gale was an invaluable source of information and support – I could always go to him and ask what was the correct procedure for church events and items on the agenda at Church Meeting. We will all miss his quiet wisdom and quirky sense of humour.
Our two boys grew up knowing Gale well, enjoying his occasional visits to our home for Sunday meals where he always showed so much interest in their development without appearing too serious about it.
I discovered that Gale had been a student at Queen Mary College where my father taught him some Applied Mathematics and with characteristic self-deprecation Gale commended he thought my father must have found him quite a challenge.
We have said farewell to a very important man whose intellect, humour, care and loyalty will be an example to us all.