Gail Patricia (Gray) Tennant, 82, of Farmington, CT, passed away at home on September 24, 2020 with her family by her side.
Gail was born on November 8, 1937 to Albert and Olga (Grimm) Gray in Hartford, CT. She attended S t Augustine’s and Buckley High School. It was at Buckley High School that Gail met and began dating Raymond “Buddy” Tennant in their sophomore year. The pair graduated high school in 1955 and married in 1960. The story goes that instead of a diamond engagement ring, Gail wanted a hutch for their future home. The hutch is the focal point of their dining room, and it has stood tall through 69 years of partnership.
While Gail grew up on East View Street in Hartford, Buddy grew up in Dutch Point. The stories they told over the years showed the love they both had for the city, their childhood, and each other.
While at St. Augustine’s Elementary School, Gail loved the nuns and used to play teacher in her attic after school with all of her stuffed animals as her students. The nuns from St. Augustine’s made Gail her very own nun’s outfit. She would wear her habit out on the streets, and people would walk by her and bless themselves. On the other side of town, Buddy attended St. Peter’s and was an altar boy at church.
One of Mom’s favorite stories to tell was when her older sister (Gloria Gray Roberts) worked as a secretary for Dr. Hepburn. Mom and her cousin (Elaine McCarthy) would go to the office, pick up and hold the Oscar awards that Katharine Hepburn had won and given to her dad, and give their acceptance speeches for receiving the awards!
Over the years Gail was a secretary for the Hilton Hotel, Eastern Airlines, and the Watkinson School. Buddy began his 30 year career as a Hartford Police Officer.
Mom and dad bought a house in Farmington CT. They have made this house their home for the last 55 years. Mom loved her house and took great pride in furnishing her home. As a young mother, she worked part-time at Sears. She would use her pay to buy appliances for her house. The story goes that seconds after she got hired for her part-time job of additional help for the Christmas season, Gail went upstairs and bought a stove.
Once her children became school age, Gail worked for 20+ years as the secretary in the main lab for The American Red Cross in Farmington. She loved her job and all the people who worked there.
Gail loved Broadway Shows, Irish step dancing, and reading. She loved flowers and gardening. Our house was never without pets. The majority of our dogs were given to us, and all of our cats were strays that wandered into our yard who then found their forever home.
For years mom maintained a huge vegetable garden that was at the top of a hill in the backyard. To water that garden, we would have to connect 5 hoses from the house. She would can and freeze all of her vegetables for the winter. She was proud to bring her overflow of vegetables to work each morning. Our house would always be filled with fresh cut flowers from her gardens or Lilacs and Hydrangeas from her bushes.
You would often find Gail on the sidelines of every and all sporting events that one of her three children were participating in over the years. She went from little league fields to the Avon Old Farms Hockey Rink to high school soccer and softball fields to walking golf courses watching matches to college fields. Mom was our chauffeur, biggest fan and greatest supporter.
Most of all, Gail took great pride in being a devoted wife, mother, aunt, sister, and nana who cherished every moment she spent with her family. Spending time at the beach was always special. Many weekends we drove to Chalker Beach in Old Saybrook spending time at my Uncle Earl and Auntie Gloria’s home.
Every New Years of our entire adolescence was spent at my Auntie Joyce and Uncle George’s house in West Hartford in their 200 year old colonial home. All 3 families, the Tennants, the Roberts, and the Witiks would stay overnight. Activities were always planned. We ate all 3 meals together as an extended family. Each family had to perform a skit. My Uncle George would dress up as Father Time. Each person would take a seat at the dining room table. Uncle George would take the resolutions from the year before out of the coffee grinder on top of the mantle. He would read your name. After each of your resolutions you had to say yeah or nay to cheers or jeers. If you did not complete yours- money was owed. If you did - you went into the winners' circle. If there was a question over whether you did or did not- you argued your case before your peers- majority rule. Gail acted as the secretary, recording everyone's resolutions and their passing/failing grades. There was always a lot of money in the pot!
Cape Cod has always been a second home and a very special place for our family. A picture of my parents at the boat docks on their honeymoon that we gave them for their 25th wedding anniversary hangs in the living room. Every summer since we were young has been spent vacationing on the Cape.
In 1985, my parents bought a cottage at Waterview Colony in Chatham, MA. The best part about this cottage was her sister (Joyce) and husband (George) already owned cottages in the association. The family fun we have enjoyed over the last 30 years with our aunts, uncles, and cousins continues today with the next generation. Every summer we make and keep treasured memories.
My aunt and uncle (Mary and John Tennant) invited my parents to go on a cruise with them one year. My parents had never been on a cruise. Of course, my mother was all in from the invite, but it took quite a lot of convincing for dad. The initial cruise was followed by 4 additional cruises and a trip to Las Vegas!
Along with her beloved husband of 60 years Raymond (Buddy), Gail is survived by her children, Raymond Tennant Jr. (Lisa) of Simsbury, Amy Tennant of Farmington and James Tennant (Stephanie) of Glastonbury. She also leaves behind her sister, Joyce Witik of West Hartford, her sister-in-law, Mary Tennant of East Hartford, many nieces and nephews and two beloved granddaughters, Riley and Libby Tennant, and her favorite golden retriever, Chayce. Gail was predeceased by her sister Gloria Roberts.
Our family would like to thank, Dr. Deborah Keightley for her medical expertise, care, and compassion of our beloved mother over the last 20+ years, but especially over the last 13 as we navigated through the dark unchartered waters of the progression of Alzheimer’s.
We would also like to thank my mom’s caretaker, Elizabeth, for providing my mother with not only the absolute best care possible, but always doing it with compassion, an upbeat personality, smiling face, and sense of humor.
To our friends, Jeri Lynn, Nathalie, Gail, and Charlotte, a heartfelt THANK YOU for ALWAYS making yourselves available for whatever needed to be done.
In lieu of flowers, Gail may be remembered with contributions to an animal rescue of your choice.
Funeral services in celebration of Gail’s life will be held on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. from Plainville Funeral Home, 81 Broad St, Plainville with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, 110 Main St, Farmington. She will be laid to rest at Rose Hill Cemetery in Rocky Hill. Family and Friends may gather on Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Plainville Funeral Home. Guests are asked to attend in accordance with CDC guidelines, wear face coverings and practice social distancing. For online expressions of sympathy please visit Gail’s tribute page at www.PLAINVILLEFUNERALHOME.COM.
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