July 2, 1922 - December 13, 2012

More than 90 years ago this last July Gail Caperna was welcomed into this world. In mid-December she bid us all a fond good-bye with her son and daughter, and dear friends Shanna and Veronica beside her.

We have lost our matriarch.

Words can't describe this woman, this powerhouse: storyteller and puppeteer for countless libraries, co-founder of the Jacksonville Children's Festival, charter member of the Jackson County Storytelling Guild, 20-year Girl Scout leader, oldest recipient of a BS degree in Theater Arts at Southern Oregon University at age 75, an extraordinary costumer for the SOU Theater Dept. and OSF, and teacher of creative dramatics when, walking with a cane at age 82, she toted bags of magical props and costumes to classrooms of children in local schools.

She had a remarkable creative influence on her four children. Reading defined her life and we revere the eclectic treasure trove of knowledge, through books, that she has left us. Her three grandchildren are especially grateful for knowing Jody in The Yearling, Sterling in Rascal, or May Belle in Bridge to Tarabithia, characters experiencing rites of passage-often in nature-and now threatened in our postmodern, digital world. This knowledge, disappearing as our elders leave us, will be passed on to her four great-grandchildren and to all who treasure books and storytelling.

Full of curiosity, she wrote about everything she did and was a published poet. With her children and grandchildren, you could find her at a Yaqui Indian ceremony in Mexico, a fashion show in Italy, on a boat on Lake Meade, inspiring children with the Little Moon Theater at the Jacksonville Children's Festival, or hunting in the Wallowa Mountains.

Nature was a powerful source of her inspiration. Growing up on the coast in Bandon, Ore., she survived the 1936 fire that destroyed the entire town and her family home. An Oregon tomboy, she traveled with her father, Clark, a cattle buyer, and listened to his endless yarns and recitation of Robert Service poems. In the late 1930s she moved to California and worked as executive secretary to the Commander of the Mare Island Naval Base where she met her husband, Ron. She then returned to Oregon, settled in Medford, and began an art gallery in Jacksonville, full of watercolors of the coast, misty landscapes, fishing boats, and the Oregon woods she loved so much.

Lovingly she is remembered by her family: son, Gary Caperna, of Medford; daughter, Susan Caperna Lloyd, of Ashland; grandchildren, Sky and Shane Lloyd, of Washington D.C. and Holly Owens Lea, of Medford; great-grandsons, Roman and Hudson Lloyd; and great-granddaughters, Jessica and Allison Lea. The love of her life, Ron, passed away in 2002. She endured the loss of her beloved daughters, Shawn Caperna Owens and Angela Caperna, who predeceased her in 1996 and 2008.

There will be a funeral Mass Friday, January 4, 2013, at 3:30 p.m., at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 326 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. Afterward, a jazz funeral procession will commence at Perl Funeral Home on Siskiyou Blvd., marching with her down the road to her burial. All are invited to attend, including the reception afterward at the Rogue Valley Country Club. For those interested, a Rosary will be said at the 8:30 morning Mass on the day of her funeral.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Story Telling Guild, P.O. 8359, Medford, Oregon 97501. www.storytellingguild.org

Our matriarch is gone. She died with a rosary in her hand; the angels have now welcomed Gail Caperna into Paradise where Ron, Shawn, and Angela await her.