Gail Aldrich Ward, of New York City, New York and Kennebunk, Maine, died peacefully at home in Manhattan on July 24, 2023. Born on June 25, 1935 in New York City, Gail grew up in Bronxville, New York, the daughter of Dr. Harold Bucken Aldrich and Emilie Thompson Aldrich. She graduated from Bronxville High School in 1953 and earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Development from Wheelock College in 1957.
While teaching at Boston’s Beacon Hill Nursery School in its inaugural years, Gail met first lieutenant, 1st Marine Division, and Harvard baseball star, Robert Brown Ward, the best man at her sister’s wedding. Bob and Gail married in August 1957 in a Cape Cod ceremony. After a year in Boston, the couple moved to Gail’s Bronxville to raise a family.
Gail was a devoted and lifelong member of the Reformed Church of Bronxville, where she taught Sunday School for many years and served on Consistory. Vitally engaged in every aspect of her community, she was active in the Bronxville Junior League, the Bronxville Elementary School, and her beloved Nondescript Club, espousing her progressive values and beliefs in every commitment. Central to her sense of social responsibility, Gail was a 40-year volunteer tutor in the East Harlem Tutorial Program, mentoring dozens of young scholars with a compassionate but firm hand and ferrying a carful of Bronxville High volunteers to and from the program weekly.
After seeing her youngest off to college, Gail pursued continued studies in Education and American History at Columbia’s Teachers College and Sarah Lawrence College, moving to Manhattan’s West Village with Bob in 1996. Following Bob’s sudden death, Gail earned a real estate license and, at age 64, joined the Halstead Property offices in Soho, with a special gift for placing young professionals and their new families in their first NYC homes. Gail’s constant companion while pounding the pavement was her golden retriever, Gracie, the duo renowned in every bookshop, antique store and Dunkin’ Donuts along Hudson Street, making new friends on every corner.
For all who knew her, Gail’s famously irreverent, and sometimes devilish, wit was a lesser talent when measured by her natural appreciation of the unique qualities inherent in everyone, she had a portraitist’s gift for character. Hers was a charmed childhood growing up in 1940s Bronxville, even meeting up with her ‘Kindergarten crew’ of girlfriends annually 70 years later, that provided Gail with a sense of place and security that she generously shared with all.
Gail is survived by her children, Robert B. Ward, Jr., Andrew Aldrich Ward and wife Devon, Emilie Ward, Matthew Waring Ward and wife Veronika, all of NYC, and three adored grandchildren, Aidan, Karolina, and Matthew. Gail will rest with Bob in Kennebunk Beach, their summer paradise together for 40 years, close by the cherished links at Webhannet Golf Club, mornings at Mother’s Beach, and sunsets over Great Hill.
A service will be held at the Reformed Church of Bronxville, 180 Pondfield Rd., Bronxville, N.Y. on Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 11 A.M. Donations, in Gail’s memory, may be sent to East Harlem Tutorial Project, 2050 2nd Ave., New York, N.Y. 10029 / https://www.ehtp.org/donate-1