Rachel E. Gage

Social worker, volunteer, beloved wife and mother

Rachel E. Gage, a longtime resident of Claremont, died on Wednesday, October 2, 2013. She was 97.

Mrs. Gage was born on December 8, 1915 in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, the only child of Mary Jane and Richard Rosser. Both her parents were born in Wales and, like most Welshmen, enjoyed singing and were soloists in their church choirs. Mrs. Gage also sang in Bach choirs, the Baptist Temple Choir and the chorus at the University of Pennsylvania, where they joined a performance by Fred Waring.

In 1920, the family moved to nearby Kingston after a mine explosion endangered Edwardsville. Mrs. Gage graduated from Kingston High School and then Bucknell University.  She received a master’s degree in psychiatric social work from the Penn School. She was working on her doctorate when she decided to join the war effort. During WWII, social work was done for the military by the military welfare division of the American Red Cross. Mrs. Gage joined in 1943 and was stationed at Darnell General Hospital and Valley Forge General Hospital.

After working with the Army for several years, she asked for a transfer to the Navy to see how they worked with patients. She was sent to Bathesda Naval Hospital and stayed there for the remainder of the war. While in Washington, DC, she met both General Eisenhower and President Truman. After the war, she joined the staff of Lyons Veteran’s Hospital in New Jersey, where she was able to follow through with patients she had seen in the Army. While there she worked with psychiatrist Maxwell Gage, whom she would later marry.

In 1947 while attending a social work conference, she was recruited by an official from the California Department of Mental Hygiene to set up the social service department at Patton State Hospital. While there, she helped to reactivate a chapter of the National Association of Social Work. A year later, she married Dr. Gage and moved to Orange County where he was employed and where two years later their daughter Megan was born.

She and her family moved to Claremont in 1953 and she lived in the area ever since. When she volunteered to help at the David and Margaret Home for children, they instead hired her to be the director of social services and later acting director of the facility. She left in 1964 to accept a temporary position working with autistic children and then was hired by McKinley Home for Boys to be their director of social service, a position she held until her retirement in 1981 when she left due to her husband’s illness. Dr. Gage predeceased her in 1993 after 45 years of marriage.

She was a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church in Pomona and was on their Lay Visitation Committee. She volunteered at After Stroke with her husband, working with those recovering from strokes and their families. She volunteered three nights a week with a group that later went on to become Tri-City Mental Health. She shared her war experiences and social work expertise with classes at several colleges. She belonged to the Academy of Social Workers and was a licensed clinical social worker.

She was deeply committed to Native American groups and she and her husband visited the Hopi reservation to meet the two boys they had sponsored. She served on the Board of Education in Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

Mrs. Gage is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Megan and William Parnell of Montclair, and her step-son, Edward Gage of Las Vegas and Hawaii. She has many cousins in Pennsylvania as well as her special cousin Jean Bell and her family in Australia.

In keeping with her wishes, there will be services Friday, October 18 at 2:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn, Covina Hills (21300 Via Verde Drive in Covina), where she will be buried next to her husband. Todd’s Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the library of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Pomona, to the American Red Cross or to any charity of choice.

 

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