In case you sensed the universe was slightly less luminous recently and were not sure of its cause, on Saturday, the 11th of November 2023, a bright light was removed from our eyeline. Gail Martin Whigham, 90 years of age, passed through death into her eternal home in Heaven. For her, we are thrilled. For us, we hold heavy hearts. She will be missed.
Born in 1933 filled with curious energy and a spritely (bordering on mischievous) spirit, Gail Whigham came into this world eager to experience all this life had to offer. She grew up in Barbour County, Alabama in what the locals call L.A.: Lower Alabama. Cospirited with a younger sister, Diane (d. 2022), by merely fourteen months, and a younger brother, Winn, by almost six years, the Martin children lived an idyllic life in Clayton, Alabama (due to the industrious nature of her parents, Winn E. and Louise Martin.) As a teen, Gail left home to attend an all-girls boarding school in Virginia called Fairfax Hall. There, Gail enjoyed the delights of being a beautiful, statuesque coed coming of age. During an organized dance where a regiment of all-boy military cadets attended, Gail recalled with delight being asked to dance by more than a few young men who were mesmerized by her charms and, most of all, by her distinct and wholly other Southern accent, rich and genteel. Gail sported that enchanting accent throughout her life. Her accent was the perfect pairing with her warm, Southern cordiality. But when Gail knew what she wanted, she went for it. After seeing a shy and studious boy from a nearby town, Gail asked Don Whigham, a future surgeon in the making, out on their first date. It was the beginning of a relationship that would elevate to a marriage of forty-eight years ending in Don’s passing in 2002. After medical school, Gail and Don settled on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and there raised their young family.
Life with four rapidly growing kids who were, one-by-one, transitioning into teenagers, Gail’s life bursted with activities and responsibilities. She dealt with the stress by employing her sharp wit and a penchant for telling jokes at the most precise moments when humor was the best medicine. Gail’s comedic timing and word economy made her jokes land with the skill of a Johnny Carson or a Carol Burnett. Up to her last days, Gail was finding ways of employing one-liners and jokes with her family, friends, and medical team when she sensed the moment needed comic relief. Gail always knew how to put people at ease.
She traveled the world. She worked with her husband in medical clinics in rural Ukraine. She fostered children who were at risk. She became a Life Master in Bridge, Her work with Right to Life in her community earned her the prestigious Presidential Medal from Bob Jones University in 1984, the first woman to ever receive that commendation in the school’s history. And she taught bible studies for many years, regarded by many who attended as one of the most gifted students of scripture they knew.
Gail is survived by her brother Winn F. Martin and her four children Wanda Mikhail, Martin Whigham, Donna Ehrie, and Steve Whigham with their spouses. Gail is also survived by eleven grandchildren: Jad Mikhail, Natalie Nasrallah, Heather Philley, Anna Pearson, Andrew Whigham, Laura Smith, Jarrod Ehrie, Bo Whigham, Paul “Chet” Whigham, Elissa Egan, and Abigail Whigham. Not only that, Gail is survived by fifteen great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren: Sarah Mikhail, Jennifer Mikhail, CJ Mikhail, Alia Mikhail, Anton Nasrallah, Elise Nasrallah, Gigi Nasrallah, Tristan Philley, Palmer Philley, Claire Philley, Theo Pearson, Elliot Pearson, Nayelee Egan, Wells Egan, Isla Rose Whigham, Austin Sisk, and Isaac Sisk. Even though her family has scattered to California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, Gail has always been the glue that kept her family close; keeping them in contact and deeply supportive of each other. Gail lived for her children and her grandchildren (and the greats and great-greats, too!)
But more than anything, Gail Whigham was a strong woman of faith. Her love and care for others flowed naturally from her love for–and her being loved by–her Savior, Jesus Christ. Gail found her strength and resiliency in her faith even when life’s slings and arrows of outrageous fortune were beyond bearable. She faced life with calm, hope and determination. Her faith ignited the faith of her family and friends. Gail was the one you could rely upon in your deepest hours of need, knowing you’d be greeted with compassion, support and wisdom.
Gail Whigham made this world a better place. It’s hard to imagine a world without her. But we must. And, just maybe, we can pick up where she left off and pass the torch of compassion, support, and wisdom to the next. As she enjoys her eternal peace, let us commit to leading and preparing others for their eternal peace while there’s still time.
We love you, Gail… Sister… Mom… Ma-Ma… and Great Ma-Ma. We are who we are because of you. We are eternally grateful.
There will be a graveside memorial service at the Louisville United Methodist Church in Louisville, Alabama on Friday, November 17th at 11:00 am Central Time.
Arrangements are under the direction of Glover Funeral Home, 3121 S. Eufaula Street, Eufaula, Alabama 36027.
To send flowers to the service, please contact Lana’s Flowers in Eufaula, Alabama by calling 205-607-0005.