Oakwood Lady Niners’ Social Chair shines as artist, educator, athlete and traveler

Sharon Gale

Sharon Gale

Ann Rounthwaite

The Oakwood Lady Niners play nine holes every Tuesday morning in a fun, supportive environment. Members often socialize over iced tea or a meal afterwards, so it’s a great way to meet people and newcomers are always welcome. Call Pattie Wigton at 480-895-7123 for information.

OLNGA’s Social Chair, Sharon Gale, lives by the precept that actions speak louder than words. Sharon has spent her life taking action to better the world through education and art, while stretching herself through travel and sport. A Missouri girl, she married and obtained her BS in Education and Art from the University of Missouri in Columbia. At 22 she and her husband joined the Peace Corps and taught in the Philippines, rowing a small boat to and from a school built on a reef in a Samal fishing community. Her immersion in different cultures broadened Sharon’s horizons and launched a lifelong passion for travel.

Before returning to the U.S. the couple traveled in 24 countries; on her return, Sharon taught in a predominantly African-American school in the early years of educational desegregation, working hard to gain students’ trust. She also had two children; obtained her MS in Education; and continued her travels. She accompanied her husband, then an Army surgeon, to his postings and taught with the Army Educational Program in Germany. There she became an avid downhill skier.

Once settled stateside in El Paso, Texas, Sharon taught in a predominantly Hispanic school where she again bridged cultural differences and, as the award-winning chair of the English department, introduced innovations like team teaching. She took up long distance running and after her first marriage ended met and married Bruce Gale, an Army officer and community college professor. Their dates included early morning three-mile runs! Sharon’s list of countries visited has risen to 49 as she and Bruce enjoy cruising. Their longest cruise lasted 48 days and rounded Cape Horn.

The Gales moved to Oakwood on retiring. “Living in Sun Lakes is like living on a cruise ship,” Sharon says. “There are so many activities to get involved with.” Grandmother to three boys, she has served as secretary and historian of the southeast valley branch of the American Association of University Women; formed an art history and appreciation group within AAUW; volunteered at a Chandler school; taught crafts; and formed cooking and beginners’ Mah Jongg groups. Formerly OLNGA Secretary, historian and photographer and now Social Chair, she plans and decorates several luncheons a year with the help of other volunteers. Using her graphic arts skills she creates slideshows, pamphlets and signs for AAUW and OLNGA activities, including hand painted posters that were successfully auctioned at OLNGA’s spring fundraiser.

In one inspiring project, Sharon researched and published a history of her father’s WWII experience as a B17 pilot who flew 28 missions, based on his letters and journal. That journal is now lodged in the Air Force archives in Savannah. An accomplished watercolorist, she displays her work at Sun Lakes art shows and has had two solo shows at the Robson Library. In one exhibit entitled “Dare to be Different” she displayed a technique in which she prints her watercolor paintings in reverse colors. The more recent of her two AAUW national art awards was for “Unique,” a painting using this technique.

Golf came naturally to Sharon. “I was a golf orphan,” she says. Her mother was state women’s golf president and helped establish equal rights for women in golf. However, after winning a tournament at age 14, Sharon gave up the game when dating her first husband and hadn’t played for over 50 years when she joined the OLNGA in 2004. She now plays for fun, enjoying the friends she’s made in the Lady Niners and enjoying the game for itself. Her advice to a new golfer? “Just go up to the ball and hit it; too much thinking can ruin a good shot.” Focusing on her good strokes and avoiding negative thinking, Sharon brings the same positive attitude to golf as to the other challenges she’s taken on and met so well. The Lady Niners appreciate Sharon’s optimistic outlook and are grateful that she shares her artistic talents and devotes so many creative hours to them.