Gae Burgess Shea, a longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 8, just two months short of her 90th birthday. Her daughter Jeanne was there to keep her company throughout the day and well into the evening.
Gae was born in West Los Angeles to Olive Edith and Charles Leslie Burgess. She attended University High School and then Santa Monica College. She was always a great student, avid reader and a champ at crossword puzzles. Gae was also very athletic. As a child she loved to practice her back flips, handsprings and cartwheels. She played tennis and loved to tap dance, but her passion was the ballroom classics. She was known to be the first on the dance floor and always the last to leave, smiling all the while. In her later years she enjoyed walking up and down Palisades Drive.
Gae married John Francis Shea on July 9, 1943, while John was in the Air Force. After he left the service they spent the early years of their marriage in West L.A., Pacific Palisades and then Lake Tahoe. They were blessed with six children, five girls and one boy. Raising her children was Gae’s greatest joy in life. She loved them all unconditionally until the end.
After many years, Gae and John separated. Gae moved back to Los Angeles to be close to her family. She ran the dental office of Dr. Dale Auck in the Palisades for over 30 years. She was an active member of the Palisades Mormon Church and was an amazing seamstress. She enjoyed making beautiful dresses for her girls as well as drapes, curtains and pillows for herself and her friends.
When Gae retired she entered into some of the best years of her life. She was on the board of the senior citizens condominium association at the bottom of Palisades Drive. Later she became their party planner. Just like dance, Gae loved a great party. She would set the theme, make the decorations, arrange the flowers and choose the menu, all with great enthusiasm. With more free time, Gae was able to make her treasured Christmas ornaments. Her friends and family will forever remember her when they decorate their trees.
Her beloved grandchildren became her main focus. She spent endless hours playing games and puzzles. She also handmade the clothes and blankets for all their baby dolls and Barbies. Gae loved to watch “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” with her grandkids. They got a kick out of watching her call out the answers because she was usually correct.
To all who knew her, Gae will be remembered for her kindness, generosity and positive attitude. While her life was not always easy she choose to get through the rough patches with grace. She saw only the light in people, never dwelling on the bad. Her “the glass is half full” attitude made her an amazingly strong woman who never let anything get her down.
She is survived by her daughters Nancy, Charlene, Jeanne, Suzy, Barbara and son John; her sons-in-law Skip, Charlie, Steve, Scott and Juan Carlos; her daughters-in-law Casey and Lynn; her grandchildren Kathy, Eddie, Amanda, Mary, Veronica, Heather, Kim, Rachel, Chris, Alison, Hayley and Skyler (and spouses John, Richard, Dax, Shane, Dan, Larry, Nicole, Garrett and Ricardo); and great-grandchildren Kyle, Clara, Christian, Anna, Kanan, Luke, Jackson, Landon, Natalie and Gracie. Now that she is in heaven, she is reunited with her little angel granddaughter Madison.
A memorial service will be held on March 30 at 2 p.m. at daughter Suzy’s home. She can be reached at (310) 310-8719.
Donations in Gae’s honor can be made to the Mormon Church at 975 Los Liones Dr.
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