GAIL HARTSFIELD was a busy lab technician, working at three city hospitals, but she always found time to volunteer at her children's school.
From the first day her two sons entered C.W. Henry Elementary School, in Mount Airy, Gail became a tireless worker there.
She was a fixture in the halls, in the classroom and at after-school activities. She served as co-president and took on many responsibilities in the Home and School Association.
"Gail felt a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment by volunteering," said her husband, Mark. "She often spoke of the joy and happiness she saw in the children's faces."
She died Friday after a long battle with cancer. She was 53 and lived in Mount Airy.
Gail was one of three children born to Jerome and Nadya Slott. She graduated from Olney High School and studied at Temple University and Community College of Philadelphia.
She was in the allied health field as a laboratory technician and phlebotomist. She worked at Temple University Hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Medial College of Pennsylvania.
Her last position was with the Chestnut Hill Pediatric Group, which she left in November 2004 after being diagnosed with cancer.
Besides her work with the Henry School, Gail was an active civic leader who was, as her husband described her, a "champion for the underdog."
She was honored as one of Mount Airy's "40 Good Neighbors" in 1999 for her work in the community.
"Gail was very tiny, and people tended to misjudge her," said longtime friend, Elayne Bender. "She took the adage, 'speak truth to power,' seriously. She worked tirelessly for the good of the school and the community."
Gail enjoyed boating, camping, hiking and swimming. She liked being with friends at the Beachcomber Swim Club in Center Square in the summer.
The club was organized by families from the Philadelphia area. Her parents were charter members, and it became a home away from home for her own family.
"Gail knew her boys would be safe within the cherished cooperative idea of 'families watching out for one another's children,' " her husband said.
"Gail was a proud person who was very independent," he said. "Even during the days preceding her passing, she did not want to be a burden and wanted to care for herself."
Last July, she lost her talented first-born son, Brian, to an adverse drug reaction at the age of 20. Besides her husband, she is survived by another son, Michael; a brother, Bernie Slott, and a sister, Lynne Slott.