Gladys Denise Caswell Macbeth, age 96, a longtime resident of Old Saybrook, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday, November 9, 2019 in the company of loved ones and her husband of 68 years. Born August 4, 1923 in New Bedford, MA, she was the daughter of William Stuart and Lillian Dora Bouchard Caswell of Jamestown, RI. Gladys spent her childhood in Jamestown, attended local schools there, worked as the organist for an area church, then graduated from Rogers High School in Newport, RI in 1940. Later the same year she matriculated at The University of Rhode Island with a goal of pursuing a mathematics degree. However, mathematics degrees were not available to women at the time, so she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and a minor in mathematics, graduating in January 1944 at the age of 20. Gladys’ children joyfully recall their Mom telling them about her days in college, driving around Kingston and back and forth to Jamestown in “Hephzibah Melchizedek”, her whimsically named “Model T” Ford.
Gladys’ accomplishments in mathematics credentialed her to achieve an Engineer’s Assistant position designing high voltage electrical gear for General Electric in Pittsfield, MA; a position she held for about 8 years. While working at GE, Gladys lived in Pittsfield where she met her future husband Charles (Chuck) Gordon Macbeth, also of Pittsfield. On October 13, 1951 Gladys and Chuck married at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, where she also taught Sunday school. After residing briefly in the area, the couple relocated to Old Saybrook in late 1951. The following year they began constructing a new house on a wooded plot along the Connecticut River, designing and building the house themselves; they permanently occupied the house in July 1954, where she and her husband raised four boys and her surviving husband Chuck still resides. Her family recalls Gladys and Chuck relaying stories of their experiences building their house, notably; one of Gladys shingling the roof while she was pregnant with her first child.
Known for her organizational skills, unassailable integrity, indefatigable diligence and honesty, Gladys was a devoted mother, wife and homemaker who proudly and selflessly raised four sons. She led an exemplary life always caring for others first. Her children remember her as a “Super Mom”, tirelessly providing home cooked meals, baking bread and the Manager of All Things. Always leading by example, she provided a deep foundation of safety, cooperation, and love in her family. Her selfless service, her strength of character, her acceptance of others and of “what is”; left lasting impressions on many in the community. Gladys is well known, not only by her extended family, but by many friends and acquaintances for never forgetting a single birthday, anniversary, holiday or special occasion date, mailing out dozens of handwritten cards every year – always on time! She was an active member of Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook for over 65 years, involved in many activities there including teaching Sunday school and leading Cub Scouts for many years.
As her children grew and departed home, Gladys obtained work outside her home as a home healthcare aide, caring for house-bound invalid patients. She loved the outdoors, was an avid hiker and traveled often with her husband once their “nest” emptied. She and Chuck also took the family on an 11,000-mile road trip from CT to Alaska and back in the summer of 1970. In 1978, Gladys, Chuck and their children built a log cabin in the woods of Vermont. For many years this cabin served as one of her favorite places of respite as well as a place where she and Chuck spent time with their grandchildren camping.
Gladys is survived by her husband Chuck, their son Thomas and partner Maureen Griffin of Lyme CT, son Stephen, of Philadelphia, PA, son Eric and fiancée Jenny Olson of River Falls, WI, and son Christopher and wife Roberta of Loveland, CO. She is also survived by nine grandchildren, four great grandchildren and eleven nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, William (Stuart) and Lillian Caswell, and her two brothers; William S Caswell Jr. and Frederick Albert Caswell, all of Rhode Island.
A memorial service celebrating Gladys’ life will be held at Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 14, 2019. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family gratefully requests friends consider donations in Gladys’ name to the American Parkinson Disease Association. www.apdaparkinson.org.