MALONE — These days, Gayle Seymour is most happy to quietly help behind the scenes.
For her unwavering commitment and compassion for others, Seymour was the recent recipient of the prestigious Caritas Award from Catholic Charities.
“I’m extremely honored by it,” said Seymour, a Malone resident. “I’m a helper. I have moved past being president of the board of this (organization), the Franklin County United Way and being in charge of many things. I’m extremely honored by this because there are many people who help in our community. I consider myself very special to have received this award. It’s one of the greatest things that have happened to me.”
“Caritas” derives from the Latin word for caring or charity. The award is given to someone who is recognized for long, outstanding charitable contributions in his or her community.
“Gayle is invaluable,” Joelle Lamica, Catholic Charities area director for Franklin County, said in a press release. “She has incredible networking skills within the community. Gayle has helped to improve our data collection and computer skills in general. She is wonderful with people and adds life to our office.”
A Canadian native, Seymour was born in London, Ontario, the daughter of Bill and Mary Cavanagh. She has one brother, Tom.
From her parents, she learned respect and sharing with others.
She earned an associate degree in business. After school, she moved to Toronto, where she worked several years at a law firm.
More than 40 years ago, her life’s trajectory changed when she met her husband, Donald, while on holiday in Barbados.
They married in 1972 and moved to Malone, Donald’s hometown.
“My husband had two aunts (Sister James Seymour and Sister Cecilia Seymour), Ursuline sisters. They are both deceased. They were absolutely amazing women. They influenced me tremendously,” Seymour said.
Seymour and her husband have two children.
“Mariann is a senior-import specialist with customs in Champlain,” she said. “She’s married and has two children. Austin is a teacher’s aide with the Malone School District. He’s engaged and has two children.”
Two and a half years ago, Seymour retired after a 37-year career with Franklin County.
“I worked in child welfare for seven and a half years,” she said. “Then, I worked as a support investigator for the Department of Social Services for seven and a half years. I worked as a special assistant to the district attorney for 22 years.”
Twenty-five years ago, she served on Catholic Charities’ Board of Directors for a decade. She is a former board president.
“When I retired, I became an active volunteer. The Good Samaritan Food Pantry is managed by Catholic Charities. I think Catholic Charities is a very special agency ... people are treated with great respect and dignity. The work done by Catholic Charities is done very quietly. They don’t go around boasting about who they take care of and what they do,” she said.
“If you come in off the street and say you have a need, then your need is taken care of. Catholic Charities and the Good Samaritan Food Pantry provide services to thousands of people every year.”
Seymour and Donald are Eucharistic ministers at Notre Dame Parish. She instructs a first-grade religious-education class and also volunteers at Holy Family School.
“Donald has been my strength and my support through everything I have done,” she said.
Not one to sit still, Seymour works part-time as the court clerk for Moira and Bangor.
“The most important thing, I hope to have volunteerism and charity taught and exampled for our children,” she said.
“How we treat people and volunteer and help others are the example and lesson our children will learn. To be successful, volunteerism and charity to others has to be passed on. We have to get young people involved.”
Email Robin Caudell: