We are sad to announce the death of Gail Eleanor Carney, senior Faculty member and key administrator of the Neufeld Institute. Gail died peacefully in her sleep on December 15, 2015 after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer.
In the words of Greek orator Pericles, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
As we collectively grieve this immense loss, we will be sharing personal stories and anecdotes about Gail written by her Neufeld colleagues, students, and friends whose lives she has touched. We will kick off this series by sharing Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s personal tribute to Gail, written upon her 2015 appointment to faculty emeritus and delivered to facilitators at the 2015 conference.
Gail holds a very special place in my heart, in the writing of the book [Hold On to Your Kids], and in the development of the Neufeld Institute. She came into my life in the 1990s — attending some of the courses and day seminars that I was giving at that time. Once you meet Gail, you do not forget her. Even when I hardly knew her, she was impressive. The more I got to know her, the more I have come to deeply admire and respect her.
Because of the sharpness of her intellect, the breadth of her knowledge, her ability to critique, and her critical thinking, I asked her to be part of the focus group for the writing of Hold On to Your Kids. She helped to guide the shape of the book.
I was delighted that she accepted my invitation to internship and was among the first to receive a faculty appointment. Her retirement from Emily Carr University was a godsend for us, as we became the beneficiaries of her administrative experience, her fierce intellect, her demanding expectations, and her incredible devotion. In 2009, she took on the directorship of our newly formed Directed Studies program and has been the main driving force behind our facilitator training program ever since. She has been a one-woman wonder when it comes to scouting and recruitment. Most of you [our facilitators] will be here because of Gail.
If you don’t already know this, I would like to share with you how remarkable this woman is. She is an artist with the mind of a scientist. Without any formal education in psychology, she has surpassed my professional colleagues as a scholar. She knows the field so well, she alone knows where I begin and where I end as a theorist — what are my contributions and who I am building on.
Gail gained my utmost respect as I witnessed her in her first battle with cancer — many years ago now. She invited me to be part of that process — and for that I am ever grateful and deeply honoured. She never shrinks from battle or from difficult challenges – she has often been my go-to person when I am not sure how to proceed with issues of the Neufeld Institute.
I have come to depend upon Gail as a friend, a confidante, as an advisor, and a source of inspiration. I have come to depend upon her fierce independent intellect for giving me an angle I had not yet considered. I have come to depend upon her mastery of the paradigm to provide me with critiques for my work.
Editor’s Note: A scholarship fund has been established in Gail’s memory. For more tributes to Gail, links to some of her art and her writings, and information about the Gail Eleanor Carney Scholarship Fund, please visit our Gail Remembered page.