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Gillian B. (Roberts) Switala

December 15, 1940 ~ December 16, 2014 (age 74)

Gillian B. Switala (nee Roberts) passed away peacefully following a brief illness on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.  She left while surrounded by her devoted family, just as she had spent every prior Advent season: celebrating her birthday among her Georgia friends, and honoring the Holiday season blanketed by her children in New York.    Gil was born on December 15, 1940 in Westchester, N.Y. to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Roberts.  A bright and compassionate student, Gillian attended Georgetown nursing school where she met her husband of 53 years, Dr. Robert G. Switala.  Gillian and Robert spent the first part of their journey overseas with the US Navy, where Gillian began raising their three sons: Keith Anthony, Kurt Thomas, and Kent Gregory Switala.  Following Robert’s discharge from the service, Gillian’s family moved to Orange County NY and joined St. Patrick’s Parish.  They relished 30 wonderful years in the Hudson Valley.  Gillian was a career educator, eventually being named a Superintendent in the Monroe Woodbury school system.  While raising her three boys and working full time, Dr. Switala earned her masters and doctorate degrees in health education from Colombia University.  During that time, she also worked for the New York State Education system.  She helped launch one of the nation’s first comprehensive Aids Education programs, now known as The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.  She was an avid reader, Civil War historian, trivia buff and even ran the New York City marathon  Her passions included the New York theater, window shopping, Trivial Pursuit and Chinese food.  Gillian and Bob also loved to travel, and explored six continents together.  Following their retirement in 1997, Gillian and Robert owned and operated the Stonegate Bed and Breakfast, in Central Valley NY, which served the Woodbury and West Point Community.  As the primary hostess, Gil cultivated her savory culinary prowess.  Gillian and Robert would later retire to the warmer climate of Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., and join the Christ Our King Catholic Church.  Gillian initially helped staff and run the Episcopal Good Samarian health clinic, and cared for our community’s neediest patients.  In her spare time, she was also elected the president of the Friends of Greene County Library, and was involved in local polling committees.  Gillian rapidly became known for her charitable work, giving spirit, quick wit, welcoming smile, and her sharp sense of humor.  A lifelong exercise enthusiast, Gillian loved Reynolds.  She took up yoga and golf, and became a fixture on the local ladies’ circuit.  She delighted in her afternoon walks around the Plantation’s cart paths.  Reynolds loved her back.  Fourteen years in the Georgia sun helped soften part of her stoic New England manner, and awaken her southern hospitality.  In a life overflowing with blessings and accomplishments, Gillian’s most treasured role was grandmother.  She hosted her eight grandchildren on the waters, tennis courts and horse trails of Lake Oconee every summer.  A selfless spirit who both came and left us during the Christmas season, Gillian truly embodied Jacob Marley immortal creed: “Charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all her business.”  She dearly loved her family and friends, and elevated everyone she encountered along her remarkable journey.  Dr. Switala was predeceased by both her parents and her sister Joanna Narburgh.  Gillian is survived by her loving husband, three sons and their spouses, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews, and her eight prized grandchildren. 

The family will receive visitors at the McCommons Funeral Home on Saturday, January 3, 2015 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  A mass of Christian burial will take place on January 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm at Christ Our King Catholic Church.  Hospitality will immediately follow the service.  Burial will follow in a private family ceremony.  In lieu of flowers, Gillian requests that memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of Greene County Library, 610 S. Main Street, Greensboro, GA 30642.  McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, 706-453-2626, is in charge of arrangements.  Visit us at www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online register.

 

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