Gabrielle Irene Martens Traxler passed away on November 24, 2021 after a long illness. She was born in 1929, in Mishawaka, Indiana. Within a year, she and her family moved back to Belgium, the home of her parents. Gabrielle always spoke of that time as cocoon-like magic – playing with her cousins at her Grandma’s home with its moat and gardens. But the coming of World War II caused her family to move back to the U.S. At that time, Gabby spoke only Flemish, which meant her first years of school in the U.S. were challenging. Gabby was determined to master English, and devoured comic books to help her. Years later, she earned her degree in English Literature from St. Mary’s College in Indiana, developing a lifelong love of poetry and literature. In 1956, she married the love of her life, Dr. James T. Traxler. They had five children. When the children reached the age of double digits, Gabrielle began work in the Art Department of the Evanston Public Library. In that role, she helped patrons by researching art from around the world, selecting books and films for purchase, instituting Fun Friday (a day of dressing with flair), and much more. She and her best friend, Gloria Lavengood, took Gabby’s art knowledge and went estate sale hopping most Saturdays. She used to say, as one or more of our family sighed as yet another fine bargain came into the house, “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Upon retiring, Gabby enjoyed teaching English as a second language, gardening, and writing poetry. She was a wonderful grandmother to her seven grandchildren. She was also active in social justice issues, and at St. Nick’s Catholic Church in Evanston. At the last concert she attended with her husband, shortly before his death, she leaned over to him and said, ‘that is so beautiful I could cry.” Gabby recognized the beautiful things in life and knew what was important. A quote her family heard all their lives was: ‘we are all just learning to love one another.” May we continue this learning.
Gabrielle was preceded in death by her beloved husband, James. She is survived by her children, Lisanne, Peter, Martine, Karen, and Madeleine, and her grandchildren, Logan, Laura, Francoise, Zoe, Tate, Sally, and Margaret.
“Tot ziems,” as she used to cheerfully call goodbye in her native Flemish.
Memorial Mass, Saturday, July 9, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 806 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
St. Nicholas Catholic Church http://www.nickchurch.org/
Margaret’s Village (which was started by James Traxler’s cousin)
Funeral info: 847.673.6111.
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