Mary Louise Gayle was employed by the City of Virginia Beach for 24 years. She worked as a Right of Way Agent.
Gayle lived in Virginia Beach and was a parishioner at St. John The Apostle Catholic Church. She’d just turned 65 in May.
Gayle had two children who described her as a “fiercely protective mother,” a “proud Grammy,” a “loving sister and aunt,” and “everyone’s best friend.”
Her children said that in the days after their mother’s death, at least a dozen of Gayle’s friends and colleagues introduced themselves to her family as her “best friend.”
“She loved people and they loved her back,” her children wrote in a public statement. “It’s no surprise, as our Mom consistently sacrificed her own needs and desires to help others.”
Gayle’s children said that she was a single mom with an associates degree when she began working for the Virginia Beach City Attorney as a legal secretary. She worked hard, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and became a Right of Way Agent. In that role she helped the Virginia Beach government purchase land for development.
“She worked hard to get where she did but despite her many accomplishments she remained humble and reserved her pride for her children and grandchildren,” her son and daughter wrote.
Gayle’s two grandchildren were the “lights of her life.” Shortly before she died she was able to spend a week caring for them while her daughter traveled for business.
In a Facebook post, a colleague named Tara Reel said that Gayle had “such a sweet smile” and an “eagle eye for detail” when it came to her work in the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works.
“She was so patient, supportive and funny,” Reel wrote, describing a difficult project that Gayle helped her navigate involving property lines and a bus stop. Reel said ever since that project, she and Gayle had a standing phone call many Friday’s before they left work.
“She cared so deeply for the work she was doing and the citizens she served,” Reel wrote.
A fundraiser in Gayle’s honor will be hosted at Panaera Bread, located at 2137 Upton Drive, on Thursday. Panera Friends in Knead will match every dollar raised between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to a Facebook post created by Gayle’s daughter.