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Gail Christine King-Hartter, 95, of Washington, IL, died at 6:22 a.m., Saturday, August 12, 2023, at Apostolic Christian Home in Eureka, IL.
She was born May 13, 1928, in Chicago, IL, to Henry R. and Gerda M. Nelson. Gail was baptized at The Evangelical Lutheran Saron Church on Shakespeare Avenue and Richmond Street, Chicago, IL, on June 14, 1928, by Dr. Carl Christenson, Pastor. On the bulletin announcing her baptism are two sayings: "The Bible is to humanity what the compass is to the traveler." And "Happiness is a great love and much serving." Her life was lived accordingly to the best of her ability.
In January of 1949, she married John Guthrie, from whom she was subsequently divorced. She married Richard H. King on October 30, 1960, in Peoria, IL. He died on December 30, 1978. In late 1980, she married Frank Hartter, from whom she was divorced in 1985, and remained single thereafter. She was also preceded in death by her parents. Gail's brother Eric Nelson, and sister, Mary Ann Smith, both of Prophetstown, IL, survive. Also surviving are Gail's three daughters, Christine Stoneburner of East Peoria, IL; Esther Nelson of Milan, IL; and Carolyn (Gary) Wilson of Centennial, CO; 5 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Gail attended Prophetstown, IL, schools, loving her studies. Her most fun and memorable experience in high school was being editor of the school newspaper in her Jr. and Sr. years. It was then published in The Prophetstown Echo, the local paper. In her capacity, she once interviewed Gypsies who had camped along the Rock River at P'town. After her Gypsy column came out in the paper, she endured the chastisement of her parents for sneaking out and doing such a thing all alone.
Later, after attending Augustana College, Rock Island, IL, she taught at Benton Street School, a one-room school in Prophetstown, where she received permission from the school board to introduce phonics into the reading program to accompany the "Dick and Jane" way of learning to read.
From 1952-1959 she was an executive secretary for Omart Investment Co. in Azusa, California, and United Concrete Pipe Corp., a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel, in Baldwin Park, California. Later, after returning to Illinois, she was a receptionist, secretary, and teletypist transmitting buy and sell orders. She began studying the NYSE rules for brokers at Hornblower & Weeks Stock Brokerage firm in Peoria.
In 1963 she began her 42-year career in home party plan sales as an independent contractor. She first became associated with Wheatonware, Inc., then later with Sovereign House Boutiques, which provided her with wonderful glassware, dinnerware, and crystal. After those sources dissolved, she went with the jewelry companies of Caroline Emmons and Celebrity. In 1990 she became affiliated with Memory Lane Video for 15 years, operating out of Peoria. She was in management with all the companies and was a national awards winner in all of them, both in sales and as a management leader. Gail always said her inspiration came from all the wonderful people who did business with her.
She was an avid gardener, and in the early 1980s, she ran an open-air market in Sunnyland where people bought lovely flowers and homegrown produce. After retiring, she developed gardens around her Sunnyland home, planting borders of unusual trees and blooming shrubs, perennials, and annuals. Having been raised on a farm, she loved the smell of the earth and was happiest working outdoors and sharing her flowers and plants with others.
As a Democrat Precinct Committee person in Precinct 15, Washington, IL, for several years, she was also a member of the Tazewell County Democrat Central Committee and a certified voters registrar. She met most of the local and Illinois State government people, and through this affiliation, she personally met Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Gail always said we needed to meet and hear our candidates, and there were times when she could not vote for specific candidates running on the Democrat slate. She always held her Republican friends, who are many, in high regard and with respect.
Gail loved her church activities, inspired by her old, tattered Bible, where she found God's teachings invaluable. She joyfully taught Sunday School for many years after her first experience at age 12, leading 4–6-year-olds to get acquainted with the Lord. She was aware of her sins but could offer smiles and her happy, playful spirit because she trusted God's forgiveness and love for her and all His children.
"Gail knew no strangers and will be remembered for her friendliness, her sense of humor, and love of life, and some even told her they loved her fetching feisty personality."
Cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Thursday, August 17, 2023, at Faith Lutheran Church in Sunnyland. Pastor John Rothfusz will officiate. The family will receive friends following the service also at the church. A private burial of her remains will be at Hillcrest Memory Gardens in rural Morton at a later date. Memorials may be made to Faith Lutheran Church or Dream Factory of Central Illinois.
Mason-White Funeral Home in Washington is assisting the family with arrangements. To share a memory or a condolence to her family, visit www.masonfuneralhomes.com.