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Remembering Gail Goldstein

—Avi Kriechman

Gail Goldstein gave a head start to so many for so long that it’s hard to imagine that this much-beloved force of nature is no longer with us. She was a fierce advocate for the health, education, and well-being of children, women, and non-traditional families from many cultural and religious traditions. She was an East Coast Jew whose global warmth, compassion, and generosity connected so beautifully to the Native American and Hispanic New Mexican communities she embraced upon moving to Placitas.

Gail was born July 5, 1947, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Bertye and Meyer Goldstein, a champion bridge player and a family practice physician. She attended Friends Academy, Abbot Academy, and Connecticut College. After working with the Teacher Corps (where she first became involved in teaching elementary school students in under-resourced areas), Gail returned to New Bedford, where she opened the Women’s Clinic at the New Bedford Women’s Center. There, she worked with her father, Meyer, a physician, providing both married and unmarried women with family planning options and other health services. Gail then traveled to Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where she devoted her considerable energies to further the reach and care of women’s clinics.

It was in California that Gail adopted Sara and met her wife, “Stormie” Parham, who’d lived in New Mexico and convinced Gail and Sara to join her in Placitas in 1985. Gail, Stormie, and Sara settled in Placitas and became an integral part of the village community, starting a tradition of latke parties every Chanukah and Seder on Passover. Gail and Stormie rejoiced in raising their beloved Sara in a place where Sara’s Hispanic heritage was the dominant culture.

In Placitas, Gail returned to her Teacher Corps roots, working first as a Head Start teacher, eventually becoming a trainer for Head Start programs statewide and a passionate advocate for early childhood education. She served as Vice-Chair of the Board of New Mexico Voices for Children and, most recently, was elected to chair of that Board of Directors. Gail has been an Early Childhood Educator for more than thirty years, with over twenty years of experience on the faculty at Central New Mexico Community College and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, where she was designated “Outstanding Faculty” in 2003. She has worked with Head Start and Title I federal programs for much of her career, serving as a Child Development Associate Advisor, parent educator, and program consultant.

Since Gail moved to Placitas, our community has grown from 350 to nearly five thousand residents. But Gail’s reach has extended far beyond the village and its surroundings, training and mentoring early childhood teachers and advocates not only in New Mexico, but in other Native communities, including Alaska.

Gail died the morning of July 15, 2016, in the home of those who loved her dearly: her loving daughter Sara Diaz, daughter-in-law Toni Michelle Diaz, and grandchildren Abigail Vega and Jose Angel Vega Jr. In spirit, Gail joins her dearly beloved late wife, Stormie.

Gail’s memory lives on in the thousands of children, women, and families she touched with her remarkable ability to find their previously unrecognized strengths and capacities and then nurture and support them so that their fullest way of being could be realized. Already, she is and will be missed by a wide cadre of friends and colleagues who loved her and were deeply touched by her.

Thanks, Gail, to all that you were, all that you gave, and all that you continue to so generously provide

 

 
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