Gail Spear died May 23 after a long struggle with cancer, at home in the company of her husband Jeff with whom she had been married 52 years this month. Together they enjoyed living in different places including Northampton, Wilbraham, St John USVI, Cuttyhunk and Martha’s Vineyard.

She was born in Herkimer, N.Y., in 1949 to Alma Underwood Williams and Hayden Thomas Williams. She studied at Vassar College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She taught French for 18 years and bonded with her students even after they reached adulthood. She would take her students to France every other year and expose them to the international culture she so loved. She also loved to fish and sail. She wanted her daughters to spend summers enjoying nature and living on Cuttyhunk, so the family lived aboard their sailboat Shibumi in the harbor. She would row the girls ashore where they were watched over by every island mother until it was time to row back aboard for the evening.

She was an accomplished potter, designing and throwing pots whenever she could in her home studio. She instructed her husband to have the New York Times crossword on the breakfast table each morning. She loved to cook and had every edition of Cooks Illustrated in her library. While living in Wilbraham, she was a longtime member of the Springfield area League of Women Voters where she worked diligently to empower voters and protect democracy. She was a member of the Junior League of Greater Springfield where she joined fellow members in advocating for the arts, women’s rights and day care among many other advocacy causes.

While on Martha’s Vineyard she was a volunteer at the Island Food Pantry. She also delivered meals for Meals on Wheels sponsored by Elder Services of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Gail was proud of her membership in the Want to Know Club, a women’s organization on the Island for over 125 years.

She was predeceased by her two daughters, Amy and Alison, brothers James and Matt Williams, her mother Alma (Underwood) Clonan and father Hayden T. Williams. She is survived by her husband, her beloved dog Ruby; nieces Lisa Steenberg of Frankfort N.Y., Julia Skinner of Maryland, Olivia Mason of Tallahassee Fla., and their children.

Gail loved her chickens, each of which was considered part of the family.

She will be remembered for her loving kindness, cheerful generosity and curious mind.

A graveside service will be private. Donations can be made to the Cuttyhunk Church, P.O. Box 164, Cuttyhunk, MA 02713

Arrangements are under the care of Chapman Funerals and Cremations of Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.