Gale Frances passed away on the afternoon of June 2, 2021, at her home in Pacifica, Calif., in the presence of her loving family. Born in Yakima, Wash., on May 5, 1937, to parents Lee and Frances Hunt, Gale was the eldest of her siblings: Floyd, Carol and John.
She and her family resided in Bremerton, Wash., until 1945, when they moved to North Dakota. At the age of sixteen, Gale left her home in Montpelier, N.D., to attend high school in Jamestown, where she worked at a portrait studio, learning the art of portrait photography and retouching, which, along with her interest in drawing, would mark a trailhead on her artistic path.
In 1956, she married Myron Schmidt, the father of her four children. In 1967, Gale and her family moved from Mayville, N.D., to Hibbing, Minn. There she continued her education, taking graduate courses in human relations and education at the University of Minnesota. She graduated magna cum laude from Mayville State University with majors in art education and English. She became an outspoken member of the National Organization for Women, AAUW, Federally Employed Women and a prominent voice for the passage of the ERA. Her successful career in the federal government began at the local branch of the Social Security Administration where she organized and led its first employee union.
After Gale and Myron divorced in 1978, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where her career with the Social Security Administration continued in Oakland as Federal Women’s Program coordinator. In 1980, she joined the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in San Francisco as an equal opportunity specialist. In 1994, she was appointed by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to the office of commissioner to the Advisory Council on Women and was recognized in the U.S. Congressional Record for her leadership. Ultimately, Gale became California regional branch chief of the Investigative Division at the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and led a team of investigators and attorneys in the identification and resolution of civil rights cases as a nationally recognized authority on sex discrimination.
Gale resigned from her professional life in 2001 to study and create art full time and for the rest of her life. She continued her studies in Florence, Italy; Skyline College; San Francisco Art Institute; and the California College of Art. She was a member of the Pacifica Art Guild and the Tangerine Arts group and showed her work at the Sanchez Art Center gallery where she also curated shows and served on its board of directors. She was a docent at SFMOMA, a storyteller at the Asian Art Museum and enjoyed guiding her family through gallery visits. She embraced the community and camaraderie she had with her beloved artist friends and colleagues. Gale cherished her grandchildren and delighted in introducing them to artistic expression and sharing her life with them. Gale’s art reflected her fascination with portraiture and the individuality of faces and figures. She described herself as a “neo-post-modern-reactionary-liberal-feminist-seeker-of- origin-and-destiny portraitist.” Her artistic vision was informed by her spirituality, politics, and often irreverent humor. In addition to painting, drawing and collage, she loved sculpting, gardening, cooking, researching women’s spirituality in art history, and world travel. She adventured with friends and family in Asia, including China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia; across Europe to Norway, the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy; and to Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.
She is survived by her four sons, Layne (Jan) Schmidt, of Pacifica, Galen (Michelle) Schmidt, of Half Moon Bay, Darren Schmidt, of Mountain View, Hawaii, and Rian Schmidt of Portland, Ore.; grandchildren Mikio and Takumi Schmidt, of Portland, Lea Schmidt, of Niles, Mich., and Nai’a Schmidt, of Half Moon Bay; brother Floyd Hunt, of Seattle, Wash.; sister Carol Hunt, of Charlottesville, Va.; many loving cousins, nieces, nephews and friends; and her art. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, John Hunt; and the father of her children, Myron Schmidt.
No public funeral will be held according to Gale’s wishes. A celebration of Gale’s life will be held at a later date and her ashes will be interred privately by her children. Donations may be made in Gale’s memory to the Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica Center for the Arts, 1220-B Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica, CA 94044.