Madison – Gayle Williams Langer, age 83 joined her family circle in heaven on September 2, 2021. The daughter of Elgee and Gladys Williams, the early years were spent on farms in Waushara County. She attended grade school in Hancock and graduated with honors from Tri-County High School in Plainfield.
Gayle was a dreamer. She dreamed of getting off the farm. She dreamed of attending University of Wisconsin in Madison. She dreamed of meeting and marrying a handsome blonde fellow. She dreamed of bringing two beautiful children into this world. She dreamed of having a remarkable and rewarding career. She dreamed of visiting Hollywood if only for a short time. It all happened.
At the young age of 17, Gayle headed to Madison on a Greyhound bus the day after high school graduation without having the funds to attend UW and no idea where she would live or if she could acquire employment. From the bus stop on West Washington Avenue, she walked to the YWCA on State Street and they gave her a room at no cost. A part time typing assignment and excellent advice from a UW professor helped her achieve her second goal. He encouraged a visit with UW Student Financial Aid where she learned a scholarship for tuition and books was available due to her academic high achievements. She also qualified for a room in a co-op dorm, Gayle was on her way to fulfilling her dreams. Her BBA marketing degree was earned from the UW-School of Business.
As a student, to cover the cost for room and board at the dorm, Gayle worked part-time at Mautz Paint & Varnish Company where she met her husband, Robert. They were married in 1958 and brought two precious children into this world, Deborah and David.
In 1959, Gayle continued her love affair with the UW by joining the staff of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, beginning a forty-one year distinguished career of service. Her greatest pride during those four decades was having the opportunity to mentor students, alumni, and colleagues, expand the Alumni Center, help redesign an alumni communications program, and develop close ties with international alumni. She also enjoyed planning post-season tours to the various bowls including four Rose Bowls. In those forty-one years, Gayle led many renditions of “On Wisconsin” and “Varsity” at alumni gatherings. One of her favorite memories was the 1993-94 Rose Bowl attracting 6,500 to festivities giving her the opportunity to share the stage with distinguished speakers at 4 major hotels, including the Beverly Hilton Hotel located in Hollywood. Yes, hurray for the Badgers and Hollywood.
Following her retirement as Executive Director and CEO of the alumni association in 2000, she served as a consultant for the alumni association and as a volunteer fund-raiser to help bring a Gilda’s Club to Madison in support of families touched by cancer. After ten years of volunteer work with Gilda’s Club, she was a volunteer grant writer for Lakeview Lutheran Church and other non-profit organizations.
A recognized leader in higher education. Gayle was a former trustee and officer of the Washington, D.C. based Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). As the first woman to chair the Council’s Midwest district, she was the recipient of the Council’s Distinguished Service Award. She served as chair of the Big Ten Alumni Directors and as director of the Council of Alumni Association Executives, a consortium of ninety alumni associations from throughout the country.
A community leader, Gayle was honored in 2007 with a Distinguished Service award from TEMPO Madison and in 1987 by the YWCA as a Woman of Distinction. Past leadership positions include the presidency of TEMPO, Madison, and officer for the TEMPO Foundation, twice serving as president of the church council at Lakeview Lutheran Church and president of the Cherokee Park Neighborhood Association. She was the former trustee for the University Book Store and the Oakwood Homes Foundation. She formerly served on the UW Foundation board and held memberships in the Memorial Union, the UW Bascom Hill Society, the Rotary Club of Madison and was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. Gayle and Robert also enjoyed membership status with Blackhawk Country Club and the Madison Club.
During her retirement years, Gayle was a devoted caregiver for several members of the family. Gayle and Bob were part-time summer residents in the Minocqua area, the location of their family cottage.
For this lucky lady, dreams came true – attending the University of Wisconsin, meeting and marrying the love of her life, giving birth to a beautiful girl and boy, and pursuing a career with the UW. All dreams achieved even though some were short lived.
Survivors include her daughter Debi (Donald) Killerlain of Sun Prairie; a sister Constance (Eugene) Klawitter of Poynette; grandsons D.J. and David Killerlain; six great granddaughters, one great grandson, and three great-great granddaughters; sisters-in-law Valerie Williams of Oconomowoc, Marilyn (Harold) Beitz of Columbus and Annette Heiman of Jefferson; and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband Robert, her son David, her brother Dennis Williams and her parents.
A memorial service celebrating Gayle’s life will be held at Lakeview Lutheran Church with Pastor Robb Kosky at a later date. Please check on her facebook page for further details.
The family suggests memorial gifts be made to Lakeview Lutheran Church rather than flowers. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com
Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Avenue
To send flowers to Gayle's family, please visit our floral store.