Gayla Kathryn McDowell


    Gayla Kathryn McDowell was born April 21, 1933 to David Williams McDowell and Florence Ralston Auchenbach McDowell, in North Philadelphia, PA. Gayla majored in German and graduated with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania. She went on to complete a Master of Science degree in library science from Drexel University and worked at several college libraries during her professional life. While attending college, Gayla traveled abroad for the first time. Traveling by herself, Gayla traversed Europe. She went on to visit the many countries her mother talked about when Gayla was just a preschooler and they poured over maps together.  In the 1980’s, Gayla worked for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and traveled to several world and national conventions. Gayla moved to California to train to become a missionary.  Her mother’s death interrupted her missionary plans. Gayla worked several temporary library positions in California and felt fortunate to land a job as Assistant Librarian at the University of California, Irvine, where she worked for eleven years until her retirement. Over her lifetime, Gayla traveled the globe. Many of her trips incorporated her passion for classical music and opera.  She attributed her love of opera to her interest in languages. Her last big trip, in 2017, was to Gottingen, Germany where she attended the annual Handel Festival and enjoyed speaking German for the duration of her stay. Gayla was a member of First Christian Church of Orange where she sang in the choir.  In her last Christmas letter, Gayla wrote, “My church is the most fulfilling part of my life and my main source of friends, as well as an inspiration to become more Christlike.” Gayla died on June 25, 2018, at Kaiser Hospital on Sunset, in Los Angeles, CA.