Gay Grumbles Haller, 1935-2019
Gay Grumbles Haller of Fort Worth, Texas, hospital volunteer, nurse, beloved mother and friend to all, died September 30, 2019. She was 84.
Gay was born August 26, 1935 in Texarkana (Texas side, she always reminded people). She attended public schools in Atlanta, Texas, graduating from Atlanta High School in 1953, where she was a majorette and elected Homecoming Queen her senior year. The daughter of Ernest W. Grumbles, M.D., who co-founded the hospital in Atlanta and was a general practitioner there, Gay knew she wanted to be a nurse from an early age.
She attended Baylor University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1957, just three years after Baylor graduated its first collegiate class. She got a job as a nurse at Baylor Hospital in Dallas (now Baylor University Medical Center), working in the operating room for orthopedic surgery. She was quickly promoted to Head Nurse because of her bachelor’s degree. She scrubbed in to assist with experimental cardiac surgeries in the dog laboratory at Baylor Hospital in the 1950s with Dr. Paul Ellis, who performed the first open heart surgery in Dallas.
In 1959, she met her beloved husband of 57 years, Richard L. Haller, at a boating outing at Possum Kingdom Lake in north Texas. They married August 13, 1960 and settled in Fort Worth. Their daughter, Beth Ann, was born in 1961.
Gay was a devoted mother and homemaker and very active with the PTA during Beth’s school years. She was a Bluebird and Camp Fire Girl leader. She supported the integration of Fort Worth schools in the early 1970s, because, as she said, if black children did not have adequate schools and books, then they should be able to attend schools in a white neighborhood.
In 1979, after her daughter graduated from high school, she went back to her two favorite things, medicine and volunteering. Continuing a family tradition (her mother Ella Pattee Grumbles set up the first hospital volunteer program at the hospital in Atlanta, TX), she became a volunteer in surgical recovery at Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth. She volunteered there for 30+ years.
Gay was an active member of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, which she joined with her family in 1963. For many years, she ran its Emergency Relief program, which assisted people in poverty in Fort Worth. She was active with the church women and played in the bell choir in the 1980s.
On Saturdays from the 1960s on, she could be found at the Haller Pecan Farm in Grandview, Texas. She helped her husband plant almost 1,000 pecan trees over the years. Once the trees began producing, she shelled and packaged pecans to sell.
She will be remembered as a good friend and neighbor to all. Her happiest moments were helping others.
She is survived by her daughter, Beth Haller of Towson, Maryland; nephew, Ernest W. Grumbles III (Mary) of St. Paul, Minn., and his family; niece, Diana Grumbles Blackman (Chris) of Dallas and her family; nephew Richard Rogers (Debbie) of San Antonio; and numerous friends of many years. She was predeceased by her husband, Richard; her sister, Linda Grumbles Allen; and her brother, Ernest W. Grumbles, Jr.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church (2700 McPherson Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76109).
A memorial service will be 2 p.m. October 12 at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, 2700 McPherson Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76109. Her interment in the columbarium at St. Stephen’s will be at a later date.