March 25, 1921 – Aug. 8, 2020
Lois (Doidge) Gammon was born at home on the farm at 4:20 am on Good Friday, March 25, 1921, in Prairieville Township, Brown County, Minnesota. She was the firstborn child of William Charles and Lulu Mae Doidge and had a younger brother, Charles. Without indoor plumbing or electricity, the farm life was challenging, involving long days and hard work. When Lois was old enough to attend school, her father hooked up the horses to the wagon and took her to the one-room schoolhouse that was a few miles away in the town of Evan.
After high school graduation from Sleepy Eye High in 1938, Lois attended Mankato State Teachers College. She graduated in 1940 with her teaching credential and began teaching first grade. She met a fellow teacher named Mary Bertschi and they became instant friends. The friends ‘lives quickly changed in 1944, when one day Mary said to Lois,’ I just bought a new car. Do you want to go to California? ‘ Lois replied, ‘I’ve got $ 100.00, let’s go!’ So, at age 23, these independent women took off for California and decided to plant their roots.
While working at Benjamin Franklin Jr. High School in Vallejo, Lois met George Gammon, a Physical Education Teacher who had just returned from being in combat as an US Marine of World War II. They really hit it off, began dating, and quickly knew they wanted to get married. So, on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day in 1946, they wed in a small, intimate ceremony at an Episcopal church in Vacaville, California.
Lois and George began their family with the birth of Catherine Irene on Oct. 4, 1948. Three years later Douglas George arrived on Sept. 25, 1951. Life became very busy with two children and George working as a teacher, while also completing his Masters Degree. Lois utilized her teaching skills with the kids and was a wonderful stay-at-home 1950s Mom. She was a fabulous homemaker, an excellent chef and an impressive seamstress. She was also known as the hostess with the mostest!
In 1952 George accepted a Principal position at Travis Elementary School in Fairfield, California, so they decided to make Fairfield their home. Both Lois and George strongly believed in serving their community. George was instrumental in the development of the Travis AFB Unified School District where he became the first Superintendent. Lois volunteered her time with a variety of activities. Once Cathy and Doug started Bransford Elementary School, Lois became the mother room of their classes, President of the PTA, as well as den mother for the Cub Scout and Brownie troops. Lois also served at the Community United Methodist Church in many capacities. There she taught Sunday School, prepared food for church events, helped in the kitchen, made crafts for the church bazaars, decorated for events, and provided secretarial assistance whenever needed. In addition, Lois was the ‘Welcome Neighbor’ representative for the City of Fairfield and made many lifelong friends through that outlet.
In 1958, Lois discovered, much to her surprise, that she was pregnant once again! Since Cathy and Doug were nine and seven, her first thought was, ‘Oh no, I thought I was done with the PTA!’ On March 26, 1959, the day after Lois turned 38… she gave birth to Barbara Kaye.
The Gammon family enjoyed many camping and day trips to the mountains, ocean, and to the snow. Lois always prepared delicious homemade favorites for the trips that would typically include fried chicken, potato salad, and of course, a yummy dessert. The Gammon household was a great place to live with how Lois would decorate for each holiday and have really fun parties for all types of celebrations.
In 1979, twelve of Lois’ friends formed the ‘S & B’ group, later known as the ‘Social Butterflies.’ They would meet together weekly to work on crafts, share goodies and recipes, help with local needs, as well as chit-chat about what was going on in their lives or within the community. This group is still active with the remaining original friends, along with the addition of their daughters. Lois also joined multiple Bridge groups and enjoyed playing other card games.
In June of 1980, George retired from being the Superintendent of Travis AFB schools. He and Lois went on their very first trip to Hawaii, which was a gift from his colleagues. They continued along with life doing fun things like going to football and basketball games, camping, bowling and enjoying time with their kids and grandkids. In November 1986, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with a party at Community United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall. The ‘S & B’ group lovingly made a quilt that had individual squares representing their 40 years together.
In January 1987, George passed away due to complications he experienced after his second heart surgery. After this significant loss, Lois needed to figure out how to move forward in life without her husband. She chose to join a travel group and go to places that she had only dreamed about. She went to New Zealand, Australia, England, Austria, Canada, and the East Coast. She thoroughly enjoyed every experience. Lois became an avid daily walker, participating in multiple 5Ks in her latter years, which inspired many to walk as well. She continued playing in card groups, bowling on leagues, and getting together with family and friends. In addition, Lois loved to go to concerts, complete crossword puzzles, arrange flowers, and read Nicholas Sparks’ books.
In 2007 at the age of 86, Lois moved to Napa, California to be closer to family to help her as she aged. She continued with her 20-minute daily walks, enjoyed time with family and friends and even traveled by motorhome to visit her brother and his family in Minnesota and her daughter Cathy, in Indiana, at the age of 96.
Lois was a strong and gracious woman, the matriarch of the family… beautiful, both inside and out. She was spunky, intelligent, had quick-witted humor, was fun-loving and good natured to the very end. She cared deeply for her family, friends, and neighbors, and made everyone around her feel special and loved.
Her daughter, Barbara, says, ‘In her final days, we enjoyed the sporadic responsive moments with her by sharing memories and notes that family and friends had written to her, as well as videos made for her. The day before she passed, our daughter Chelsea (Lois’ youngest granddaughter) called her Grandma and sang her favorite songs to her. Lois softly uttered the words ‘I love you’ to Chelsea. Oh, what a precious gift that was. On the day my Mom took her last breath, she opened her eyes big and bright and said, ‘Thank you,’ then peacefully passed away in my arms at home with us at 10:41 am on Aug. 8, 2020, at the age of 99 years, 4 months and 14 days. ”
Lois is survived by her three children and their spouses, Cathy (Ron), Doug (Oriana) and Barbara (Marc); seven grandchildren; and sixteen great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, William and Lulu Mae Doidge; her husband, George Gammon; daughter-in-law, Geraldine Gammon, her adventurous friend, Mary (Bertschi) MacVitie, and so many other dearly beloved friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Fairfield, California on Sunday, May 15, 2022. If you would like to attend, please email: [email protected] or call (707) 815-5735 by the end of day on May 8, 2022. A livestream of the event will be available at the following link: https://fb.me/e/44Zn2Fwpv
Donations in Lois’ honor can be made to the National Osteoporosis Foundation at: https://www.nof.org/support-nof/donate/ or call (703) 647-3000.