Remembering Grafton Receptionist Gerry McNamara

One of our most beloved employees, Gerry (Geraldine) McNamara, passed away on Friday at the age of 90. Gerry touched all of our lives working as Grafton’s receptionist for nearly 30 years, first in the lobby of the Manor House and then at the front desk of the Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center in Berryville. She retired from Grafton in September of 2016.

Gerry joined our team in 1987 after retiring from DoubleDay, where she had worked as a shipping clerk. Few people would leave retirement to embark on a new career at the age of 56, but it was clear that Gerry loved Grafton, and everyone at Grafton loved Gerry.

“There was a comfy sofa across from the entry desk, and staff were always there talking with her. That sofa was never empty,” remembers Ukeru President Kim Sanders. “They would chat about everything, from the trials of the day to family news—Gerry wanted to know every detail about how folks were doing. She also loved to chat about antiques and share stories about her extended family in Tennessee, where she grew up.”

To many, Gerry was “the face and voice” of Grafton. She was the first to greet people when they walked through the door and the first to answer the phone—and it’s difficult to imagine anyone making a better first impression. Colleagues say she was always warm, kind, and made people feel like she had known them forever. The families we served also came to know her as a trustworthy and compassionate person that they could share their hopes and fears with.  She was always there for them.

“She had an infectious laugh that just brightened people’s day,” remembers Chief Operating Officer Tony Sanders, who will be a pallbearer at the funeral service on Wednesday.

Gerry also loved the students. She watched them come and go over the years, sharing in their joys and sympathizing with their challenges. It was clear that the kids loved her too. They saw her as “the good grandmother,” who was always looking after them. Everyone who knew Gerry, knew that Grafton’s mission was dear to her heart.

Family was everything to Gerry, and the people at Grafton were figuratively—and literally—part of her family. Our wonderful Executive Administrative Specialist, Sharon Foltz, happens to be her daughter.

“In many ways, Sharon is just like Gerry was—kind, dependable, and happy to help anyone with anything,” says Executive Assistant Sam Marcus, who hired Gerry to work the phone switchboard more than three decades ago.

A funeral service will be held 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 13, at Enders & Shirley Funeral Home Chapel in Berryville. Sharon and the rest of the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. To view the service online, read the obituary, or send condolences, please visit https://www.endersandshirley.com/obituary/geraldine-mcnamara.