Remembering Gail Weesner

Gail Weesner (1935-2011)

Gail (Gruner) Weesner of Boston died on Aug. 19 after a brave fight against cancer. She was 75.

Born on Sept. 7, 1935, in Danville, Ill., Mrs. Weesner was the daughter of Earnest and Eunice (Foss) Gruner. She was a 1953 graduate of Watertown High School in Watertown, Wis., and a 1957 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After working in publishing for several years in New York City, Mrs. Weesner and her husband Thomas E. Weesner relocated to Beacon Hill in 1965. She soon began working as a freelance editor on various projects.

Mrs. Weesner collaborated with author, publisher and fellow Boston resident Barbara W. Moore for more than 30 years. Their works include “Beacon Hill – a Living Portrait, and “Back Bay – a Living Portrait” (published by the authors under the imprint Centry Hill Press); and two editions of “The Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill” (published by the Beacon Hill Garden Club).

“Gail was the most modest person I’ve ever known, as well as one of the most intelligent and talented,” said Moore, who is the present wife of architect James McNeely. “She was just an incredible person who never wanted any kind of recognition for her work.”

Mrs. Weesner was also a dedicated member of the Beacon Hill Garden Club and the Friends of the Public Garden.

“Gail was one of those rare individuals. Wise, gentle, kind. Incredibly knowledgeable about our parks and the neighborhoods we serve, an accomplished writer and editor of books including ours, yet absolutely unassuming and quick to demur when the spotlight shone on her,” Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends group, wrote in an e-mail to the Times. “Her loss is deeply felt by everyone in the Friends.”

Friends President Emeritus and Founder Henry Lee said, “Gail was not only a great personal friend, but her contributions to the Friends of the Public Garden and hence the parks are really incalculable. We’ve lost a wonderful friend to the community, our organizations and our parks.”


Paula O’Keeffe, a neighbor and close friend of Mrs. Weesner’s for more than 25 years, remembers her as a selfless individual whose loss will be felt by the community.

“She was a wonderful, kind person. She was always interested in other people and was easy to be with,” O’Keeffe said. “Everyone will miss her terribly.”

Mrs. Weesner is survived by her beloved husband of 48 years Thomas; two sons – Christopher Weesner, and his wife, Kathryn, of Leawood, Kan., and Andrew Weesner of Boston; and grandchildren Elizabeth Weesner and Robert Weesner, also of Leawood, Kans. She was also the loving sister of Constance Schnitger, of Troy, Va., and the lifelong friend of Kathryn K. Wheeler, of New York City.

There will be no calling hours, and burial will be private. A Memorial Service will be held in the Story Chapel, Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, on Friday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made “in memory of Gail Weesner” to The Friends of the Public Garden, 87 Mount Vernon St., Boston MA 02108, or to the Gynecological Cancer Research Fund, Yawkey 9, Room 072, (Attn: Michael Birrer, M.D.).

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