MIFFLINTOWN - Gail Esh Switzer, 52, of Mifflintown, died peacefully on May 22, 2013.
She died as she wished, at home in the loving arms of her family, with her beloved pets by her side.
Gail was born on July 11, 1960, in Lewistown. Her father, David Byler Esh, preceded her in death. Her mother, Reba Ritzman Esh, of Port Royal, survives.
Gail is also survived by: her husband, Robert; her son, Noah James and wife, Patricia; her daughter, Jennifer Leah and husband, Christopher; three grandsons; a granddaughter; a brother; two sisters; an aunt; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Gail was a 1978 graduate of Juniata High School, Mifflintown, where, as a majorette in the marching band, she was noted for twirling her fire baton. She also attended Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she was a preveterinary major.
Gail, who grew up on a farm, loved animals of all kinds. She rescued and provided a home for dozens of animals. She fostered and found homes for dozens more.
She is survived by two of the cats whose lives she saved, Winston and Phoebe Louise. She loved them like children.
Gail's favorite calico cat K.K., blind, deaf and 15 years old, was by Gail's side until the end. K.K. died herself two days later, on May 24, 2013.
Gail worked for nearly 30 years as a civilian employee of the Navy in Mechanicsburg. She started as a clerk typist, and later worked her way up through numerous information technology positions, working most recently as an Oracle Database administrator.
She was a skilled problem-solver with superb customer service skills and loved her job. She held several professional certifications and received numerous workplace peer awards.
She was also an accomplished cook who loved to feed friends and family, especially with the fresh produce and herbs she grew in her organic garden.
In addition, Gail was an enthusiastic seamstress who made many quilts, flannel blankets and knitted items for friends and family, including hand-knitted custom cat toys and beds for their pets.
Gail loved good books, good music, good movies and was a ferocious competitor at backgammon and Scrabble.
Metastatic breast cancer took Gail's life. She bore the suffering of her disease with equanimity and grace. She never lost her sense of humor. When she discovered that her time was limited, she set two goals for the remaining months and weeks of her life, and then accomplished them. She attended her daughter's wedding, and held her first granddaughter.
Gail was open and accepting. She radiated love. As a result, many loved her and many will miss her.
Arrangements, entrusted to Rex Funeral Home, of Port Royal, were private.
A memorial service and celebration of life event will be held at a later date.
Please don't send flowers. Instead, donations may be made in Gail's memory to Mifflin County and Juniata County Pet Pantry Inc., P.O. Box 3, McAlisterville, PA 17049.