Reflecting back over the last 16 years of service to the church, Gayle Ammerman says that she never imagined she’d be here this long. The varied and diverse roles she’s held here at First church included Communications (for which she was first hired as support staff by former director Leslie Laswell), and then, through the years as needs changed, so went Gayle’s tour of duty.
From the front desk to support for adult education, 11:11, counseling, occasional front desk reception and likely many other areas, Gayle proved herself again and again as the consummate team player. In a Garden reception given in honor of her retirement (along with that of Robert Stovall) Gayle was described again and again by her fellow staffers a someone they could always count on, someone they loved to talk to, a pleasant and friendly presence on our staff that we will all dearly miss.
Married for 44 years to our beloved retired Business Administrator, Larry Ammerman, and raising a family that has expanded beyond daughters Jesse and Lee to include Jesse’s husband, Ron, and their children, Isla, 9, and Barrett, 6; Lee’s husband Gary, and their children, Ethan, 15 and Micah, 12, Gayle’s busy and active life outside the church provided her and Larry with much more to talk about over dinner than “church stuff.”
The funny thing is, Gayle reflects, she never really considered working at FUMCFW. “Having worked at a church before coming here, I thought I’d be working in a different industry in FW,” she elaborates. “But with my deep faith that God knows what He’s doing, when the opportunity arose it felt like God was putting things in place for me.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Aside from the preliminary challenge of finding her way around “the maze of hallways,” Gayle has settled in quickly to every job and assignment and taken care of everything and everyone in her path, navigating an even more incredible maze of details with grace, ease, and poise that made her an inspiration to the more frazzled among us.
One constant during Gayle’s service to our church is the unlikely (and unspoken) title of Funeral Bulletin Queen. During the past 16 years Gayle has created and produced more than 500 bulletins for funerals held at our church. “Having different roles within the Church, working in the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings, the Adult Education Ministry, and eleven:eleven downtown, gave me the knowledge and discernment in corresponding with the congregation,” she reflects. That experience served me well when producing a lasting memento, the worship bulletin for a loved one they have lost.”
Gayle says that being that constant that everyone could count is something she is very proud of — and along with that affirmation from her colleagues she will take memories of all the wonderful people she’s worked with an known for the past 16 years. Both, she says, will always bring a smile to her face.
Gayle says that the decision to retire was not one that came easily — or lightly — but foremost in her heart was making this transition early enough to enjoy spending more time with Larry (who retired in December 2020 and is currently following his bucket list dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail), their family (who got together this past Christmas for the first time in several years; just recalling the pure joy of this extended visit made Gayle’s eyes light up in a way that assures more of such gatherings on her horizon) and, starting on her first day of retirement, she’s enrolled (a birthday gift from Larry) in the Central Market cooking school to pursue her dream of learning to cook some of the more complicated things she hasn’t yet had the time to try.
To those who are just beginning or are still in their early years of serving First church Gayle offers two bits of wisdom: “This is one of the few places to work where you’ll find people who truly appreciate and care about you,” and hold on to your hat! 16 years goes by in a flash!”
Thank you, Gayle, for all you’ve done for our church and its people. Enjoy your retirement and stay in touch!