Gail Attridge of Bedford Road, Carlisle, age 50, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, on August 12 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. A wonderful mother, wife, daughter, friend and neighbor; an excellent sailor, a skilled equestrian; a loving steward of animals including horses, dogs and chickens; Gail will be profoundly missed by all who knew her.
Gail was raised in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Like her daughters eventually would, she competed as a girl in horse shows, a passion that she maintained throughout her whole life. Before university, she sailed the Maine coast every summer developing her skills as an experienced off-shore sailor. She majored in economics at Mount Holyoke College, including a year’s studies overseas at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, and then completed a master’s degree at the London School of Economics.
Gail’s career in international finance began in Boston immediately after she graduated, working as an economist for three years with Data Resources Inc., but a thirst for adventure compelled her to take a break to spend a summer working on a charter boat sailing out of Camden, Maine. She then moved to Japan for two years to help her father start a business there, followed by two years in Hong Kong working for British investment bank County NatWest. During that time, Gail traveled extensively throughout the region researching Asia’s emerging economies for County NatWest.
It was during her stint in Hong Kong that she met her Australian husband, Rob Thomson. The pair eventually left Hong Kong together to travel throughout China, Russia, and Europe before settling in the U.S., where they both resumed careers in the fields, and married in 1992. After several years as a Fund Manager and Vice President for Putnam Investments, Gail gave birth to her elder daughter, Harriet, followed by Ella’s arrival three years later.
The family of four moved from Brookline to Concord when the girls were small and enjoyed neighborhood life on Revolutionary Ridge, but before too long, her abiding passion for the equestrian life, an interest fast taking hold in both daughters as well, drew the family to Carlisle, where they bought property that had enough room to build a barn which would house their two horses, Avi and Ziggy. The barn and surrounding pastures provided space for not only Ella and Harriet but also numerous friends and emerging equestrians to develop their riding skills under Gail’s tutelage. The family became involved in the Old North Bridge Pony Club, where the girls rode and competed while Gail served as an officer and eventually as District Commissioner.
After learning in 2007 that she had inoperable breast cancer, Gail readjusted her life in small ways to maximize the time she had left with her family. She welcomed help from her mother, Iris, of Gloucester, and enjoyed visits from her father, still living in Japan. She and Rob made it a top priority to spend time together as a family. She continued tending to horses and chickens alike for as long as she was physically able, passing on her knowledge of animals and so many other things to her daughters every step of the way. Gail faced her illness with honesty, strength and resilience, putting everything she had into making the most of every day while always being candid with family and friends about what the future held.
Gail is survived by her husband Rob Thomson, and their two children Ella and Harriet Thomson, her parents Iris and Bill Attridge, her aunt Joyce Coish, cousins Ron and Ken Coish, and countless friends she met through her children’s activities, riding groups, and the various places she has lived.
Gail had asked that those wishing to express their condolences through a gift of flowers please consider instead a donation to the MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen and their Equine/Farm Adoption Center , a special MSPCA facility devoted to neglected farm animals including horses (wwww.mspca.org)..