Obituary: Gayle Papa

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, educator

Gayle Papa was born July 12, 1938, in the small town of Norfolk, Virginia. She died peacefully on August 31 surrounded by her loving family.

Gayle lived her childhood years in multiple naval base locations throughout the United States. She was the daughter of George and Greta Fritschmann. Her father was a U.S. Navy admiral. She graduated from Washington Lee High School in West Virginia.

She moved to Claremont in 1966 and later became a recreation leader for the city’s parks and recreation department. She then decided to pursue a career in teaching and attended Cal Poly Pomona while raising her two daughters. She graduated with honors.

Shortly after college she was hired by Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga, where she taught third grade for 25 years. “She loved the job and was idolized by all her students,” her family shared.

When not teaching school, Gayle enjoyed camping, gardening, sewing, playing golf and tennis.

After retirement, she and her beloved husband Tony enjoyed traveling in their motor home to see national parks and family throughout the United States. Her love of golf and socialization at Red Hill Country Club always brought her joy. She was an excellent golfer and most of all a good friend.

Family was also very important to her. Sunday night dinners were the highlight of her week, and it wasn’t uncommon for 15 to 20 family and friends to show up each week. Her menu consisted of what others (especially her grandchildren) requested her to prepare. Desserts of course were her specialty. She adored her grandchildren, and they adored her.

One of the most important things in her life was making her famous biscotti cookies. Family, friends and even strangers were often gifted with the special treat. The love of her passion shined through with every bite.

Gayle is survived by her loving husband of 42 years, Anthony Papa of Claremont; daughters Kathleen (Brad) Pederson of Park City, Utah, and Brenda (Gary) Havro of Claremont; and grandsons Connor (Vanessa) Havro of Whitefish, Montana, Brant Havro of Laguna Beach, and Landen Pederson of Salt Lake City, Utah. She also is also survived by her extended family Pam (Bill) Stevenson of Claremont; James Papa; and grandson Cameron Papa of Claremont.

The family will celebrate her exemplary life in a private celebration. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation at


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