Cover photo for Gail C. Maxwell's Obituary
Gail C. Maxwell Profile Photo
1937 Gail 2021

Gail C. Maxwell

February 20, 1937 — June 18, 2021

Loving Mother, Wife and Friend; Child of Tennessee, Citizen of Chicago and Explorer of the World

Florence Gail C. Maxwell, age 84, loving wife, devoted mother to children & pets and award-winning photographer of nature, of Palatine, IL since 1976, formerly of Grosse Pointe, MI, and Nashville, TN, due to complications from a stroke on Friday, June 18, 2021 in the arms of her daughters, with her light fading as the sunny summer day ended. Gail reached her well-earned eternal rest embraced by Our Father in heaven. Beloved wife of the late Richard E. Maxwell for 65 years. Loving Mother of Gail Allison (David) White, Miriam Elizabeth (David M. Kutney) Maxwell, and Diana Claire Maxwell. Dear daughter of the late Bessie Lowe (Neely) and Bailey Eaton Cranch. Favorite big sister of Robert (Dolores) Cranch. Cherished aunt of Lorie Cranch and the late Richard Cranch.

If there was ever a woman who personified the plaintive lines of Dylan Thomas, it was Gail Maxwell. “Do not go gently into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Gail successfully fought many battles in her lifetime, especially in her life’s early winter, but, in the end, she was no match for the solitude resulting from losing her life love and constant partner, her husband, Richard, only 8 months ago on October 21, 2020.

Gail was born February 20, 1937 in Nashville, TN to Bessie and Bailey Cranch in the family home in Nashville. She was raised in a busy, happy multi-generational household and soon joined by her brother, Robert, 3 years later. That nuclear family remained Mom’s pinnacle of what a family setting should be. For years, we continued to have family dinners following services on Sundays and extended family always together for delightful meals on holidays. Gail was light personified, vibrant and illuminating in her charm, inner strength and resolve wrapped in silken cadence of Tennessee charm. Gail always wanted to be someone’s Mother; everything after that was dessert!

After graduating East Nashville high school 2 years early, Gail attended Vanderbilt University before her next adventure, marrying Richard Maxwell, her military man. Three daughters arrived in Nashville, and after several relocations, they landed in Grosse Pointe, MI then Palatine, IL. We don’t know if a Fitbit would have been able to keep up with all the steps Gail took each day with three lively daughters!

A 53-year member of The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Daughters of the American Colonists (DAC) and others, Gail took a personal interest in knowing her history, learning from it to take charge and own the future. She instilled in her family a reverence to know deeply, understanding the past, especially parts that are uncomfortable as well as those that instill family resilience and pride. Gail was a Lyric Opera of Chicago Patron member for many years and enjoyed attending performances of classical theater with friends and family. We daughters remember Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini v.18 as the music of Mom along with Debussy’s Clair de Lune, the only song Mom could play on piano by heart.

In both homes, the lovely Tennessee rose bloomed while Gail grew her own photography business as a “work from home mother”. Gail and Richard stayed married for 65 years because both gave each other needed space to let the other grow. Richard recognized Mom’s need to see and feel the world after he traveled the world in the Air Force and Mom looked after children and home. It was Gail’s turn now to bring her own story to life, that of a photographic journalist with style.

The business was an avenue to broaden her reach, extending her grasp to explore the world by skiing in untamed, ungroomed mountains of Courchevel, Val d'Isere, Chamonix (France), Zermatt and St. Moritz (Switzerland), Cortina (Italy), and Banff (Canada). Mom also grew her global knowledge by photography trips to Israel, Bolivia, Nepal, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, and more. While Mom rarely used the name Florence, it became her favorite international travel destination, Florence, Italy. We continue to discover uncatalogued photos from all her trips to enjoy and say her name as we reflect on her extraordinary work.

Gail was an extremely gifted photographer of nature, a voracious fine food & wine aficionado and a lover of current events and conversation, expert fearless skier and race winner, and intrepid traveler. The photo here shows Mom with her signature hairstyle, knowing eyes and a mischievous smile. Her many friends will miss her kindness, generosity, refined style and beautiful spirit.

Gail engaged in living life fully and using all God’s talents bestowed upon her, radiant with a charm that sets rooms aglow! Descendant of pioneers, soldiers and scholars. Inheritor of all that energy and spirit of inquiry, that gift of innovation in photographing the mundane to turn into artful insight that was a vein of genius. An engine of creativity, a reservoir of humor and wit possessed of enviable literary and artistic skills. Astonishing beauty and incandescent intellect, all brought to bear on her career choice as delightful wife, devoted mother, adoring sister, and most of all, a caring friend. Gail told a good story, sometimes a bad one, but she always told them well, with grace and charm. There are no statistics for hearts opened or wounds Gail healed through her mastery of tracking friends down for a chat. Her daughters, Allison, Miriam and Diana will never forget her, nor will anyone who met her.

We, her daughters, will always continue to do our best to be “proper” and if we cannot be proper, at least be memorable in a good way. No need to rage against the dying light as eternal rest has been granted to Gail with perpetual light and love shining on her, reflected back to us. Gail is at peace now, a pea placed back into the pod with her husband, Richard.

A visitation will be held Saturday, June 26, 2021 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1190 N. Hicks Rd., Palatine, IL 60067; visitation at 10 AM and service at 11 AM.

Following are the links for your family and friends to watch service remotely:



Scroll down for the link to the youtube service.

A second visitation will be held Saturday, July 3, 2021 from 11 AM until the time of funeral service at 1 PM at Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home, 201 25th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203, burial service following at Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville with Jack Galloway officiating.

If you choose, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either

2705 North Arlington Height Rd
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004
Tel: 1 (847) 259-2907

Salvation Army Service Extension Department
c/o Marie Dade
5040 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel: 773-725-1100

Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options of Schiller Park, Illinois.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gail C. Maxwell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, June 26, 2021

10:00 - 11:00am (Central time)

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

1190 N Hicks Rd, Palatine, IL 60067

Service to follow at 11am

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

11:00am - 1:00pm (Central time)

Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home

201 25th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203

Funeral Service to Follow at 1pm

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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