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Gale Pankratz (née Towne), age 81, of Madison, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully in her sleep on September 1, 2022, at her daughter Lisa’s home in Madison.
Gale was born on April 4, 1941, in Ripon, Wisconsin, the daughter, and only child of George and Lily Towne (née Radke). Gale graduated from Ripon High School in 1959. She then attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, graduating in 1963 with a degree in education. Gale married Dale Pankratz on August 3, 1963, in Ripon, Wisconsin.
Shortly after graduating college and getting married, Gale and Dale moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where Gale had secured a position as a third-grade teacher. In this new place, living far from family for the first time, Gale had the opportunity to hone her skills as a teacher, adapt to married life, adopt the first of many cherished dogs, and experience life in a brand new place.
In 1965, Gale learned that she was pregnant with her first daughter, Lisa. In anticipation of the birth, Dale and Gale moved back to Ripon to be closer to both of their families. After living in Ripon for several years, they relocated to nearby Berlin, Wisconsin. In 1973 their family grew with the addition of her second daughter, Jill. The family shared many wonderful times together including particularly fond memories of summer vacations around the country and times at the family’s lake house.
Gale enjoyed a thirty-year career at Berlin Middle School where she taught eighth-grade English and History. She was a forensics coach, yearbook coordinator and kept score at countless basketball games and track meets. Gale’s enthusiasm for teaching was kept alive by the wit of each year’s new class of students. She loved to get to know “the kids” and spent many noon hours and time after school talking with them about whatever topics they felt like discussing.
Gale was a dedicated mother and mentor for both of her daughters and many other young people. She always had time to listen and talk with them. She was fond of hosting a house full of teenagers and had an endless amount of patience, always welcoming her daughters and their friends to spend time there. She made her home a comfortable, inviting place and taught her children the value of close family relationships.
Gale retired from teaching in 1998 whereafter she and Dale became active members of Retired Greyhound Athletes, a greyhound rescue organization. Through her work with RGA, Gale formed lasting friendships, helped place countless needy animals in loving homes, and bonded with numerous dogs who she adopted herself. Throughout her life Gale gave a warm home to 9 cats and 30 dogs, 22 of them greyhounds. Gale, Dale, and the dogs took many extended motorhome trips to locations both near and far from home. Family filled the remainder of Gale’s retirement years. Between her two daughters, Gale had six grandchildren. She spent innumerable hours babysitting and growing close to this next generation of her family. In 2010 she and Dale moved to Madison, Wisconsin in order to be closer to family.
The connections Gale formed with family and friends became an essential source of support after Dale passed away in 2011. Regular visits from the grandchildren to help around the house and yard became a ritual of forty-five minutes of work, followed by hours of conversation on the back porch. During the period of illness immediately preceding her passing, Gale was heard to say: “Everytime I meet a new nurse I have to tell them about my grandchildren.”
Gale is survived by her daughters Lisa (Jonathan) Yackel and Jill Pankratz, grandchildren Nathaniel Yackel, Sophia Yackel, Laura Niedfeldt, Oliver Yackel, Madelyn Niedfeldt, and Henry Yackel and three dogs Honey, Petey and Coco. .
Gale is preceded in death by her parents George and Lily Towne and her husband Dale Pankratz.
A celebration of Gale’s life will be held on September 18, 2022 at 1:00 pm in Madison, WI.
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