October 26, 2020
It is with the deepest of sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Gail (Gustafson) Thomas, known by some as Gigi (Grandma Gail). A profoundly loving human being, she was a devoted daughter, sibling, mother, grandmother, and friend. Gail was born in Sarasota and attended local schools, graduating from Sarasota High in the 1960s. The oldest of five, she adored her parents, recalled her childhood fondly, and cherished memories of holiday celebrations with family. Gail’s maternal grandparents, Burleigh and Charlotte Brooks, were early members of the Sarasota community and owned the historic residence, The Acacias. Being part of Sarasota’s historic past was a source of pride for Gail, and she had a strong interest in preserving it. Gail enjoyed exploring new places. Married to a member of the armed forces, she moved often, living overseas and for a time in Hawaii. She remained forever enamored of the Hawaiian Islands and its culture. While a single parent, Gail attended college, graduating from Hillsborough Community College as a Radiologic Technologist and later Manatee Community College as an Ultrasound Sonographer. Work took her to Atlanta, a place she lived and enjoyed for many years. Before retirement, Gail served as a traveling ultrasound sonographer, taking full advantage of extended stays in many different parts of the country. She explored communities from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to Maine and the New England states. Wherever Gail went, she appreciated living like a local. She took in the sights, attended local events, participated in educational opportunities, learned a new craft, and made another lifelong friend. If staying within close proximity to a family member or friend, she always made the effort to connect. To Gail, relationships meant everything. I found a photo on her phone with the following quote by Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Gail’s gift was to love on people, and she did so by serving others. She spent her time and energy preparing food to share with others, doing things that were helpful, and making gifts for the people for whom she cared deeply. She even made gifts for the loved ones of people she knew, but who were not personally known to her. For us, it was common to come home and find that she had cleaned our refrigerator or put fresh sheets on our bed. She enjoyed cooking. For a family dinner, where everyone pitched in to bring one dish, mom brought four. Some of our favorites include stuffing, gravy, biscuits, beef stroganoff, “green cake,” and innumerable baked goods. She was a talented sewer, and relished making handmade gifts. Adding to treasured memories of times spent together, those who knew her have precious reminders of her love such as wall hangings, table runners, hand towels, pillowcases, ornaments, baby blankets, quilts, clothing, and countless other items made with love by Gail. She was a caregiver, a volunteer, and a charter member of Sarasota East Kiwanis Club. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to the caring and kind-hearted professionals who work at Emory University Hospital. They provided excellent medical care and left no stone unturned. We are also thankful for the invaluable support of our mom’s family and friends during this difficult time. We are honoring our mother, Gail Gustafson Thomas, by making contributions in her name to the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation. Gail was preceded in death by her loving parents, Kenneth Gustafson and Dorothy (Brooks) Gustafson. She is survived by her adult children, Kimberly Thomas-Cain (husband Darrell) and Kevin Thomas (wife Louisa), as well as the granddaughters she called “my girls”: Amber, Olivia, Emily, and Eleanor. She is also survived by her siblings Gary Gustafson (wife Kathy), Steve Gustafson (wife Vicki), David Gustafson (wife Kathi), and Judi Coppola (husband John), as well as many much-loved nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends. We all have evidence of her unfailing love. We, her children, believe we were given the best of moms and feel fortunate to have had the gift of this exceptional and truly selfless human being in our lives. Though we are grieving, we are also comforted by the knowledge that she lives on in our hearts. Our mom, a Christian, was a hopeful person. Her hope came from the faith that God has plans for her. In the last weeks, mom shared that she dreamed of being with her parents and that she felt a physical hug from each of them. She was comforted and said, “They gave the best hugs.” Mom’s last request was to leave the hospital and get a hug from us. We will be forever grateful that we got to give her those hugs.
It is with the deepest of sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Gail (Gustafson) Thomas, known by some as Gigi (Grandma Gail). A profoundly loving human being, she was a devoted daughter, sibling, mother, grandmother, and... View Obituary & Service Information
Obituary & Service
It is with the deepest of sorrow that we announce the passing...View More
Flowers & Gifts
Send flowers to the Thomas family.Send Flowers