Mary Gale

Mary (Hlebanja) Gale, of Gwynedd, passed away peacefully on May 18 at Willowbrooke Court in Fort  Washington, PA.  She was 97.

Mary is survived by her son Charles H. Gale IV (Barbara) of Doylestown and her daughter, Nancy B. Granese (Deacon Claude Granese) of Worcester. Also surviving are her grandchildren David C. Granese (Marianna Capostagno), Christine M. Gale and Angela M. Granese; a great granddaughter Julia Mara Granese; and two nieces Barbara Rowan and Patricia Zajac.  Mary was predeceased by her loving husband of 50 years Charles H. Gale III, a grandson Charles H. Gale V and her sister Anna.

Born in Philadelphia September 9, 1919, she was the daughter of Anton Hlebanja of Stednji, VRH, Slovenia, and Emma Warshilek Hlebenja of Steigerhalf, Austria.

Mary attended Mastbaum Junior High and Stetson High School.  Early on, she worked at Bromley’s Lace Factory to help support her widowed mother. Later, she was employed by Strawbridge’s, in alterations and dress fittings.

Mary and Charles H. Gale III married on Sept 28, 1946. In 1953, they bought 7 acres of land and together moved Gale Nurseries to Gwynedd in 1955. Mary planted tree seedlings with Charlie, which are now majestic trees overlooking the Gale property, and many beautiful residential gardens throughout the Philadelphia suburbs. Mary acted as the financial manager of the firm until retiring at age 70. Mary chose to work behind the scenes letting Charlie take the “spotlight” in the many years of exhibiting in the Philadelphia Flower Show. She was beside Charlie and son Chuck as they accepted the many awards, honors and accolades for their exhibits and gardens in the PHS Flower Shows and gardens across the Delaware Valley, including the Wilkinson Sword award from England.

Mary and Charlie’s travels took them to England, Scotland, France, Africa, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Canada, the Panama Canal, and the Caribbean. After Charlie passed in 1997, Mary traveled with the St. Jude Church Seniors of Chalfont and her church, the Gwynedd Church of the Messiah. They visited Russia, France, and the National Parks, and cruised down the Mississippi River. Mary visited Disney World with Nancy and her family in 1998.

Mary’s creative touch began at an early age of 10 when she learned to sew. She created her own graduation and wedding dresses as well as dresses, suits, and gowns for her personal wardrobe and for Nancy and relatives. She also designed curtains and drapes. Mary designed and created one of a kind floral arrangements . While helping to sell Christmas trees in the early days of Gale Nurseries, she also made Christmas wreaths.

Mary volunteered at the Gwynedd Church of Messiah during her 50 years as a member in choir, the Welsh Village Fair and Belfry Bargains. She also offered her talents of sewing choir gowns and wherever necessary. Mary worked with the PTA for Spring House School and was an active member of the Ladies Lion Club of Lower Gwynedd.

Mary moved from the Gale homestead to Gwynedd Estates ACTS Community in March 2003, where she met old neighbors and friends and made many new acquaintances.

Her loving and kind ways engaged many residences and employees of Willowbrooke Court. Her seniors’ yearbook recognized her “prettiest smile.”

Funeral services are private. Donations may be made in Mary’s memory to Fort Washington Estates Willowbrooke Court Activities Fund, 735 Susquehanna Road, Ft. Washington, PA 19034

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