Cover photo for Mabel Rose Gamino's Obituary
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Mabel Rose Gamino

December 6, 1920 — March 11, 2022

Mabel Rose Gamino

She was 101 years loved.Our darling Mabel Rose Long Gamino died on March 11, 2022. Mabel was an angel on earth for more than a century, doing unto others every day in countless ways that always shined the spotlight on them, never herself. She was a child of the American West, World War II veteran, nurse, treasured wife and mother, devout Catholic praying the rosary daily, piano player, lifelong learner, fan of Lawrence Welk polkas, exceptional giggler, and lover of peanut butter-and-chocolate combos. She was humble, kind, gentle, calm, super smart and amazingly organized despite raising eight highly energetic and every-which-way children who roundly robbed her of what current culture calls "me time." She was a full-time, hands-on mother until her last breath, earning a place in the record books as a 101-year-old mother still caring for a child with special needs at home. Mabel's late-life hearing loss prevented her from hearing soft-spoken Helen, but they had their own ways of communicating and Helen's nightly foot rub was their version of happy hour.Mabel was born on Dec. 6, 1920, on an isolated 320-acre Homestead Act plot on Montana's harsh Great Plains prairie, a big sky place of rattlesnakes and minus-40 winter days. She lived on the nearly treeless homestead for 10 years with her parents, John and Leona Long, and her older brother Mervy. She was a curly towhead nicknamed Fuzzy. Education was a one-room, three-pupil schoolhouse. On Sundays they rode 10 miles in a horse-drawn wagon to the small town of Winnett to attend Mass. The Great Depression forced them off the dry land and onto a dairy farm in the beautiful Gallatin Valley outside Bozeman, with a view of the Rocky Mountains. Mabel rode a horse or walked 3 miles to elementary school in the community of Gallatin Gateway. She attended Holy Rosary High School in Bozeman, where she became a journalist for the student newspaper. An essay she wrote for an American Legion Auxiliary contest in 1937 won first place in state competition and second place nationally.After graduating high school in 1938, she attended the Columbus School of Nursing in Great Falls, Montana and became a registered nurse in 1942. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing education from Great Falls College in 1943. With World War II in full force, she enlisted in the Army that same year and was ordered to report to the Army's largest basic training installation in the country—Camp Roberts, near Paso Robles, California. At its peak, it housed nearly 50,000 male troops and just 200 female troops. One evening, Mabel walked alone to Mass at the post chapel and encountered a barrage of whistling and callouts as she passed the huge barracks area for enlisted men. After Mass, someone behind her asked, "Lieutenant, may I walk with you?" Mabel later wrote in a personal memoir, "Turning I saw a smiling, nice looking Lieutenant and I thought it should be O.K. to walk along with someone who had just come out of church; also, it would be a help to get through the enlisted men's area. Little did I realize that day how our lives would be entwined."The lieutenant with the million-dollar smile was Joe Gamino from Oklahoma, who soon would transfer to the Army Air Forces and be sent to the Pacific theater as a B-25 navigator. Before either deployed, however, Mabel and Joe had a memorable date in Los Angeles, with dinner at the Brown Derby and then dancing at the Ambassador Hotel's famed Cocoanut Grove ballroom to Freddy Martin's Orchestra. While Joe was sent to New Guinea and then to the Philippines, Mabel was deployed with the 159th General Hospital to England, just outside the town of Yeovil about 40 miles from Stonehenge. In the spring of 1945, she received a diamond ring from Joe, mailed to her in England by Joe's brother, Tony. "I cried," she said. When the war ended in Europe, she returned to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth with 13,657 other troops who were greeted by Air Force planes, a blimp and tooting tugboats.After the war, Mabel and Joe married on June 27, 1946, in Bozeman, with a honeymoon in Yellowstone. Joe began calling Mabel by her middle name, Rose, and most people who met her thereafter never knew her name was Mabel. They moved to Norman, Okla. so Joe could finish studies at the University of Oklahoma to become a geologist. Mabel worked in the OU infirmary, where she once treated a finger cut on Darrell K Royal—an OU football star who became the winningest football coach of the Texas Longhorns. He wanted stitches, but Mabel told him he just needed a Band-Aid. After Joe's OU graduation, they moved to Oklahoma City for his job.They raised five sons and three daughters on a lively street filled with other large Catholic families, all parishioners of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Vivid memories were created each summer, when the family loaded the station wagon and drove into the Rockies to vacation with Mabel's family in Montana. Sightseeing at the Grand Canyon, the Royal Gorge, Carlsbad Caverns, Teapot Dome, the Great Salt Lake, the Tetons, Old Faithful and many other natural wonders (including one long detour to Niagara Falls) instilled in their children a love of history, travel and outdoor adventure.Mabel simply loved children. Once her youngest children were in elementary school, she went back to work caring for newborns at Baptist Hospital. She also volunteered to mend clothes for a retirement center and teach English to new immigrants. And she churned out more than 3,000 handmade rosaries for Catholic missions, stringing one bead at a time. Mabel and Joe celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2006. Together they had made pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Lourdes, Fatima and Mexico City. If Joe didn't want to travel, she went anyway—the Holy Land; an Alaskan cruise with Helen; to Hawaii to pay respects at Pearl Harbor; and to Rome, where she touched the hand of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.Sadly, Joe died in 2007, so Mabel and Helen moved together to an independent living apartment at St. Ann Retirement Center. Mabel spent her last years as sharp-minded as ever—visiting and celebrating family, mothering Helen, praying, keeping up with world news and making more rosaries. A snowy Montana day brought her into this world and a snowy Oklahoma day gently carried her out in a glowing sunset. Mabel leaves a heartbroken family and her motto: It's better to laugh than cry.Mabel was preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother, sister-in-law Eileen and grandson Anthony. She is survived by eight lucky children: Daniel (Eloise), John (Jacquelyn), Louis (Marla), Denise (Jay), Laura, Ray (Lisa), Helen and Gary (Michelle); 18 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and a large extended family who loved her as "Aunt Rose." Visitation will be held on Friday, March 18 from 6-7 p.m., followed by an Evening Prayer Service at 7 p.m. at Smith & Kernke Funeral Home, 14624 N. May Ave., OKC 73134. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 3214 N. Lake St., OKC 73118, followed by burial at Resurrection Memorial Cemetery, 7801 NW Expressway, OKC 73132. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Catholic Charities OKC or Doctors without Borders.
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Past Services

Evening Prayer Service

Friday, March 18, 2022

Smith & Kernke Funeral Home (N. May)

14624 North May Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73134

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