Kim agrees. “Larry couldn’t have been Larry without Gail,” he says. “She was a rudder. It’s not widely known, but she’s the smartest girl in the room. She always is. It’s unacceptable for her not to understand everything about everything. She sees everything. She has an incredible capacity.
"Larry was a genius, and so is Gail in a different way. She’s pretty easy to underestimate. She just always wanted to be a mom. That was good enough for her. She irons, sews, made all her own clothes forever and she knows how to get down and scrub the floors and she loves it. She is, in many ways, just an ordinary woman. She sees herself as that. That’s where she gets her joy. But she’s been called upon to step out of that and assume this role as the lifeblood of this organization and she really is. She’s the glue.”
The Wilsons and Millers were neighbors for more than 15 years before Gail and Kim married, and they attended the same LDS Church ward. Kim met Larry through his legal work and their mutual interest in church history (Kim is founder and chairman of the board of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, and Larry funded The Joseph Smith Papers). Kim came to know Gail years ago through her service to his late wife. Vickie was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5 — the same ailment that ultimately killed Larry. About 20 years ago, she also was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“She was an invalid at some level most of her life,” says Kim.
Gail was the ward’s Relief Society president and, as such, coordinated service efforts in behalf of the Wilsons and personally attended to their needs. When Kim politely resisted the help, saying he could take care of things himself, Gail would have none of it. As Kim tells it, “Gail got in my face a couple of times and said, ‘You just let us help you. It’s your job to let us help you.’”
She arranged meals, filled the freezer with food, cleaned the house and helped care for Vickie.
“She was regularly in our home,” says Kim. “She was extraordinary. She had an incredible impact ministering to my wife and filling the needs of my kids and taking care of things.”
When one of Kim’s children accidentally burned their house to the ground, Gail was even more of a frequent presence in their lives, providing service for the family. Incredibly, four years later, after the Wilson home had been rebuilt, one of their other children burned the house down again and Gail came to the rescue again.
Their paths seemed to cross at every turn. In the latter years of their first marriages, Gail and Kim were both caring for invalid spouses.
“We were in competition for the best handicap parking spot at the ward,” he says. “Numerous times we parked side by side getting our companions into their wheelchairs and wheeling them into church."
Vickie died Dec. 29, 2010 — her 39th wedding anniversary — about 22 months after Larry's death.
In the summer of 2012, Kim was scheduled to attend a social event related to his church history work. He didn’t want to go alone, so he called and invited Gail, figuring she would know many of the people at the event. A year later they married.
“When I persuaded her to marry me — which was no small step on her part — she did say that no man had ever proposed to her,” he says (Gail had given the slow-moving Larry a marriage-or-else proposal after years of dating). “She said she was unwilling to accept anything but a formal proposal of marriage. We had some fun with that. It took some work. I’m delighted she decided we could spend part of our lives together.”
Those close to Gail say they have never seen her happier and are quick to credit Kim for this. “He’s a good man," says Gail of her new husband. "He’s very different than Larry. He’s very calm and patient. And he’s funny.”
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