1 - Mom singing on contract with RCA Records - she played nightclubs through Georgetown and environs - Circa 1950s
Gail Maxi Harris
  • 76 years old
  • Date of birth: Jun 9, 1935
  • Date of passing: Apr 5, 2012
Three things are essential: great doubt, great faith, and great perseverance. .... .... Zen Saying

On June 9th, 1935, Gail Maxi Ferrara (aka McClusky to her father), was brought into this world. She was a precocious child whose intellectual curiosity was perhaps only topped by her zest for life. She was a Daddy's girl, no doubt about it. She loved to swim and dance. She loved Georgetown and riding her bike. She loved her family and God. And oh how she loved music and sports. 

She played touch football with Gene Kelly; lived across the street from President Roosevelt (Teddy) @ 34th and O; and got rides to school when it rained by Jean Turney's Chauffer driven car.

By all standards Gail grew up too fast when she met a young sailor named Dave Harris and fell in love. Just before her 15th birthday, Gail and Dave ran off to Maryland to be married. After simply lying about her age, they honeymooned at Glen Echo Amusement Park and she had frog legs for the first time at O'Donnell's seafood restaurant in D.C. 

While at the Park some schoolmates noticed the ring on her finger and tattled on her to Sister Roberta. When news got back to her father she was promptly kicked out and dropped out of school. (That didn't last long as the first grandson came along less than two years later and all was forgiven.)

Gail started making babies but her natural musical talents, a family tradition, led her to work as a singer for RCA records, working in nightclubs all over Georgetown and DC. By all accounts she was amazing. But family always came first so she gave up the singing career and traveled all over the U.S. following my Dad’s employment opportunities. 

The babies kept coming, seven in total, but the marriage failed and Gail found herself with no high school diploma and an ex-husband who was less than forthcoming with consistent financial support. But she was a fighter, she was born that way. So at the age of 47 she got her GED and began classes at the local community college – all while working and raising the remaining children at home.

After mastering her academic performance for her AA she went on to a private college – Mt. St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD - and earned her bachelor’s degree. Her achievements were so grand that all the area papers ran stories about her and she was the only graduate of Frederick Community College ever invited back to be the commencement speaker.

Jobs came and went but Gail always found a way to provide, while coaching her children’s championship softball teams I might add. She worked with disabled adults and juvenile “delinquents;” she counseled prisoners and helped fight addiction within the family and without. And just to keep things hopping she also backpacked through Europe … alone.

She made the best spaghetti sauce and eggplant parm on the planet. She loved black truffle butter; angel hair pasta; Jazz, Big Band, and the Standards; Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald; the Washington Redskins; the Orioles and the Nationals; the Ocean; children; California; Video Village; Blackjack; fuzzy socks; Foster's beer; baked brie; Malibu rum and pineapple juice; Al Pacino (va va voom); books; New York thin crust pizza with extra sauce; singing; breakfast; crossword puzzles; playing the Ukele; Rummikub; the atmosphere at a bar during a football game; Boston Legal; getting pizza with her cousins; Ally McBeal; lazy sundays; sushi rolled with rice paper; flirting; her steaks rare; spending time with her family; her grandchildren; Diva from Geneva OPI nail polish; egg foo yung; being on the water in any kind of boat; coffee and a paper in the mornings (especially the USA Today); receiving cards; giving gifts ... God. (feel free to add your own as well)

Gail Maxi Mary Mildred Regina Ferrara Harris was my mother, my friend, my adventure companion, and my greatest love and support. She lived out the last years of her life experiencing all that life had to offer and I was blessed to be by her side and in her heart. 

Gail died five weeks to the day after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She left a huge hole in this world but also a legacy of unconditional love; fiery verve; and a heartfelt desire to truly LIVE.

Today I celebrate my Mom and the gift she brought to this earth. 
Today I send out all my love to her wherever she is with hope that she is truly happy, truly loved, and truly at peace. 

Until Forever Runs Out - Your Nene

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Jeanine Harris on 5th April 2017

"Five years since I last heard you laugh or felt the warmth of your hugs. 1,825 days with a hole in my heart and a void in my life so large I sometimes get lost inside of it.  Some days I can think of you and smile.  Sometimes I can even laugh at some of the amazing memories we share.  Other times I can't let myself think of you for longer than a moment because the pain buries me.  I don't know where you went - I don't even know if you went anywhere in particular or if you just went away - but I know that I wish more than anything in the universe that I could visit you for just a moment.  Just one more moment.  I love you Mom and I try so hard to be the daughter you raised but it's damn near impossible sometimes.  Without you the world seems so much colder. But each time I get down I remind myself whose daughter I am and I hold my head high, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on going.  Until we meet again, my love always."

This tribute was added by Patricia Steers on 6th April 2016

"Such a fulfilled life. I wish we had known each other.  I would have liked to have you as a friend.  But Sushi?  Your daughter is much like you. I value her friendship."

This tribute was added by Jeanine Harris on 9th June 2015

"Happy Birthday Momma ... I miss you so much.  My love for you never waivers, my longing for you never fails.  Today and every day you are cherished and loved beyond measure."

This tribute was added by Jen West on 11th May 2013

"Thinking about mom a lot this weekend. It's hard knowing she's not there to call tomorrow. I love and miss her very much."

This tribute was added by Jeanine Harris on 10th May 2013

""My sincerest sympathies on your moms passing. I knew her as a wonderful, straight forward and truly kind person. I can remember her smile as we had good times and drinks at "the bar." I am sending her my "thanks" right now." - Bryan P."

This tribute was added by Jeanine Harris on 10th May 2013

"I posted a picture of my Mom on facebook, at the Beach Club in California she loved so much and here's the tribute she received:

"Your mom was the life of the party!! I always think of her when I have a cadillac marg!!  xoxox Jen Prince""

This tribute was added by Patricia Steers on 13th April 2013

"Wonderful tribute.  I hope my children think of me with such glowing terms.  Your Mom raised a lovely daughter.
Newest friend in Berkeley Springs, Pat Steers"

This tribute was added by Jen West on 8th April 2013

"My mom had a zest for life that she luckily shared with me.  I'll always remember her and forever miss her.  Everyday I spend enjoying the company of my family and friends, I make tribute, my joy of living with her memory. I love my mom and miss her very much."

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This memorial is administered by:

Jeanine Harris


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