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September 26, 2007
Column #1,361
"She Lived Her Life Entirely For Others."
By Mike McManus

The brochure for the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Kingsley Gallup features a picture of her as a teenage ice skater leaping with abandon high in the air.  It captured the zest of the woman who married the famous George Gallup, Jr.

At her memorial service her son George spoke first, saying, "I would like to tell you about the most important person in my mother's life."  Of course, I thought he was talking about his father. But his next sentence was, "He isn't sitting here with us today...He came into this world, although he was not of this world. He led a humble, simple life...He taught us how to live with one another, love one another, and to forgive one another."

Her daughter, also named Kingsley, said, "Anyone who knew mom knew she lived her life entirely for others...whether advising or encouraging, mentoring or nurturing...Serving others was what mom loved to do. She found total fulfillment in it. She spent her days doing precisely what she loved. What more could any of us ask for?"

Recently Kingsley gave birth to their first grandchild, Daisy, and is pregnant again.  She shared a letter from a friend to Daisy about her grandmother: "Listening is what your Grandmom did so well for both family and friends. She would listen to a sea of woe from people she cared deeply about, and her reaction was always soothing, `Yes, yes, I know."

Daughter Alison, talked of the "cozy elegance" of the home her mother created, but added, "My mother was an independent, feisty woman with her own opinions and ideas. She was a champion for injustice and an advocate for the underdog...

"She was comfortable with who she was and did not allow herself to feel overshadowed by the attention my father received.  She was content to be the silent, often unrecognized partner.

"Most important, my mother was a woman of faith. Over the past 25 years I saw her faith grow from a quest to unshakeable conviction. She believed intensely in the power of prayer and the healing miracles experienced in her small groups."

"I can't discuss my mother without including my father and their incredible marriage. Growing up I never once doubted their love for one another. And over the years, I watched their love grow even stronger. My parents were truly a team, best friends and prayer partners...My mother grounded my father and my father allowed my mother to be less earthbound."

As I sat listening to these inspirational words from her children, I decided to give them a wider audience, writing this column about Kinny (as her friends knew her).

My wife and I met her 30 years ago when we persuaded George and Kinny to attend a Faith Renewal Weekend at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Darien, CT, led by Rev. Terry Fullam, a remarkable Biblical scholar, who changed our lives and touched many others, including Kinney's

George and Kinney were our house guests that weekend. We loved her from the start. She was so approachable and comfortable. She made us feel like old friends, and had a rare ability to make people feel important and loved. She laughed a lot, and poked gentle fun at George. In fact, after George spoke at our church, she stood up and took strong exception to something he said.  Attendees were astonished she would contest what her famous husband said, but were delighted and endeared to her.

We have known few couples with such a vibrant marriage.  About a decade ago, I remember one evening when we shared concerns about our children, and prayed for each other's.

Eight years ago Kinney was told she had a virulent form of breast cancer. George told the crowd, "She had no better than a 50 percent chance of surviving the first year...but Kinny lived eight years, sustained by her own God-given strength and courage, support from her family and friends... She made a very conscious decision that she would live out the rest of her days witnessing to the power of the Lord in her life."

A friend, Chris Albe, witnessed, "She looked for, and saw Jesus in each of us." As a prayer partner, Kinney challenged Chris "to write down petitions, and see them answered."  Of course, one was that she would be healed from cancer.

That prayer WAS answered. She did not die of cancer but of liver failure - a peaceful, painless death. But not before leading many people to a closer walk with Jesus Christ.

As George concluded, Kinny would "remind everyone that this life is just the beginning."

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