Gabriella “Gay” Lincoln Burrage Haroutunian, 73, of Steuben, Maine, died peacefully at home on February 6, 2020, of heart failure.
Gay was born March 11, 1946, the last of seven children of Katharine and Walter Burrage of Brookline and Manchester-by-the-Sea. She spent much of her childhood outdoors, often planning outrageous schemes with her dear (and lifelong) friends. She attended Manchester Memorial School, the Winsor School, and Commonwealth School in Boston. She received a BA in art history in 1967 from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where she fell in love at first sight with Joe, her devoted husband of 51 years. She earned an MA in speech pathology from Boston University in 1971, then moved to rural Maine to become the first speech pathologist in Washington County schools. She and Joe welcomed two daughters and proved to be exemplary parents. Gay continued to work with children aged birth to five, both through the Washington County Children’s Program and in private practice, until her retirement in September 2019. She shared her expertise in autism, child development, and speech, language, and feeding disorders through her work with the Maine Association for Infant Mental Health and the Community Caring Collaborative.
A dedicated mother, she led Girl Scout troops, supported theater and dance by designing amazing costumes and makeup, and encouraged her daughters in all their interests and endeavors. She adored and was adored by her granddaughters and countless other children. She was an avid gardener and plant enthusiast, a lover of birds and a hater of porcupines. She believed in snail mail, saving things, being active, and staying informed. She was a collector of frogs and the queen of silent laughter. She and Joe played Boggle and Scrabble daily, often with tied scores.
Gay battled multiple serious illnesses throughout her life, beginning with Hodgkin’s disease as a young woman. She was an incredible patient: organized, friendly, knowledgeable, and upbeat, loved and respected by all her doctors and nurses. Through her many treatments and surgeries, Gay never complained and hardly ever stopped smiling; she just commanded her body to pick up the pieces and soldier on cheerfully, again and again. She was ever buoyed by her faithful “Joey,” who was always by her side, a constant caregiver and companion.
True to her name, Gay brought joy everywhere she went. She loved fiercely and unconditionally. She saw the extraordinary in everyone and had the curiosity to find beauty in everything. She used her voice to champion causes she believed in and people who needed support. Her care and interest in each person she met was completely genuine. She was a sprightly paragon of bravery, fortitude, generosity, passion, and cheer. She lived life with no regrets, present in every moment, determined, productive, giving, and loving, right to the end. Her heart had so much to give, it just couldn’t keep up.
She is survived by her husband, Joseph Haroutunian of Steuben, ME; her daughters, Maya Myers and husband Matt of Charlotte, NC, and Mischa Haroutunian and husband Charles Smith of Denver, CO; her granddaughters, Julia, Allie, and Caroline Packard of Charlotte, and Laila and Nela Smith of Denver; her sisters, Sally Ney and partner Richard Vitzthum of Baltimore, MD, and Anita Bers of Arlington, and her brothers, Walter (“Buzz”) Burrage and wife Helen of Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Nick Burrage and wife Charlotte of Brookline; her sister-in-law, Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon and husband Robert Gordon of Chicago, IL; thirteen nieces and nephews; twenty-three grandnieces and -nephews; and honorary daughter Caroline Rollinger and husband Gillis Greiwe of Hamburg, Germany. She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Beverly and Lavinia.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Washington County Children’s Program, either at PO Box 311, Machias, ME, 04654.