Gail Beil ~ longtime community advocate and city commissioner, historian, gardener, baker, champion of vulnerable people and homeless animals alike ~ died Wednesday evening, January 8, 2020, after a long illness. She was 81.
She was born in Oklahoma City on February 7, 1938 to Steve and Gail Kimes, who died in childbirth. Following the death of her birth mother and namesake, the baby Gail was raised by Albert and Louise Kimes, a newlywed aunt and uncle who also became her parents. She spent her early childhood moving throughout the South along the path of Albert’s job in oil exploration, eventually settling in Houston. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1960, and married Greg Beil on September 3 of that year. In 1965, the couple and their two young children moved to a small German village in the Rhine River Valley, where Greg obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz. The family returned to the United States, first to Houston, and then to Marshall in 1971 after Greg was recruited to join the faculty at Wiley College. In the late 1990s, Gail returned to college, obtaining her master’s degree in history from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1999.
During her life, Gail worked in public relations, public services administration and journalism. But her passion lay in jobs without a salary. She was instrumental in construction of the Marshall Public Library building in 1973. She was a charter member of the local League of Women Voters, an organization she served for 50 years. She was a past president of the East Texas Historical Commission. (If you’ve read a historical marker in Harrison County, chances are she researched and wrote it.) She served on boards for the library, parks, depot, symphony and others we can’t remember because the list is so long. In 2017, she was elected to serve on the Marshall City Commission, a seat voters returned her to in 2019.
She threw her all into every task, whether it was restoring Memorial City Hall, cooking meals for the Wiley College debaters, or pulling weeds from the garden she tended even by moonlight. She was happiest when her hands were digging in dirt, or dusted in flour. Strangers were welcomed into her kitchen as friends, and friends as family. We will miss her sharp wit, her famous potato rolls, and most of all, her bottomless heart.
Services for Ms. Beil will be held Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 3:00pm at First United Methodist Church. Survivors include her children, Tom Beil of Berkeley, CA, Laura Beil of Cedar Hill, TX and Angie Potts of Dallas, TX; sisters, Kathy Gutierrez of Houston, TX, Charlotte Speers of Tucson, AZ; brothers, Louis Kimes of San Augustine, TX, Lloyd Kimes of Cuero, TX and Brownie Kimes of Houston, TX; foster son, Jonathan Ennis of Fort Worth, TX; four grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved beyond measure. Donations in Gail’s honor may be made to the Marshall Depot Museum, 800 N. Washington Street, Marshall, TX 75670 or Friends of Marshall Animals, P. O. Drawer V, Marshall, TX 75671. Online condolences may be offered at http://www.meadowbrookfh.com
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