Gerry Rankin

gerry rankin

March 6, 1936 ~ January 28, 2024

Born in: Poteet, Texas
Resided in: New Braunfels, Texas

Someone was giving an audience advice on how to live. He said, “Make writing your letter of recommendation easy. Make writing your eulogy impossible.” Well, Gerry Woolls Rankin certainly did that.
Gerry died as a result of Lewy Body Dementia on January 28, 2024. She was 87 years old, and had three children, Troy, Mary, and Leslie, and four grandchildren, Ari Elizabeth, Lauren, Asa, and Annelise.
According to her birth certificate, she was born on March 6,, 1936 in Poteet, Texas, but, throughout her life, her birthday was March 2nd (Almost every official document states 3/2/1936). The story goes that her best friend and cousin of the same age, Sally, was a “precocious” little girl whose confident personality got a lot of attention. When Sally was asked, “When is your birthday?” she innocently said “September the two-th!” It was very cute and, of course, got a positive reaction! Then, they would turn to Gerry and ask her the same question. She answered “March the two-th!” No one ever told my mother that her birthday was actually March the 6th, so Gerry Woolls Rankin still celebrates her birthday on Texas’ birthday, “March the two-th!”
After her birth in 1936 to Irene Elizabeth Wallace and Hubert Driscol, her parents divorced. Irene married Temple Asa Woolls, who adopted Gerry when she was about four years old, and Temple was “Daddy” from that moment on! She grew up in Cotulla and, according to tales she and relatives told, Gerry was often in charge of her five siblings, Lela, Nancy, Lynne, Temple (now deceased) and Frank. As a girl, Gerry adored and often took cross-country trips with her Aunt Beth (Elizabeth Woolls Johnson), Grandpa (Frank H. Woolls) and Grandma (Sally S. Woolls), “inheriting” their love for travel. Grandpa often said, “If someone said they were going to hell, Grandma would say, ‘Wait! Let me get my hat.’” The same could be said of Gerry!
Gerry often talked about her best friend, Margaret Ann Hillje, reciting her phone number – 907F13 – every time she spoke of her, how Grandpa Woolls would sneak her vanilla malts behind the house, and the events surrounding her being voted FFA Sweetheart! Gerry seemed to be on every page of her Cotulla High School yearbook! She excelled in academics and extracurricular activities. Annually, she was a class officer, member of the FHA, Band, newspaper staff, and a majorette, serving as head majorette her senior year. (In 2023, she was still able to twirl, toss, and catch her baton!) At CHS, she was a representative in coronations, delegate to state and national events, and the 1954 Valedictorian.
Gerry married her high school sweetheart, Gordon Rankin of Cotulla, and, while he finished his education at Rice University, she worked for Gulf Oil. Eventually they settled in California where they raised their children and worked to build Farwest Corrosion Control Company. After their divorce, Gerry returned to Texas, enjoying being near siblings and extended family. She said success is “building a family, sharing a smile or a meal, it is lending a hand. It is being interested in those around you. Real success is helping others, loving others, and being loved by them.” She was successful.
Gerry began working for the world-renowned cardiac surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey, helping operate a cutting-edge cardiovascular lab. She was proud of being a part of his team. She also worked at Safeway grocery stores. In the College Station Safeway, she became “Mom” to all of the Texas Aggie students. They would stand in long lines, just to see her and tell her about an exam, discuss a problem, or share a success story. She also made fantastic friends working there, and some of them became family, too.
Gerry was an active, loving grandmother. Living with Leslie’s family, Gerry helped raise Ari Elizabeth, Asa, and Annelise Staven, providing love, joy, fun, ridiculousness, adventures, and learning! Gerry created a foundation upon which they built their success. Her relationship with granddaughter, Lauren Rankin (Troy’s daughter), was filled with laughter and admiration. With Lauren, Gerry was unlike “typical” grandmothers! She relished their outrageous and competitive fun!
In the late 1980’s, Gerry worked at Yellowstone National Park in the summers. She made countless friends, loved serving the guests at the Old Faithful Lodge, and she took it upon herself to experience as much of The Park as possible, walking over 300 miles in one summer! She especially loved exploring The Park with and through the eyes of the four grandchildren.
Visiting her sisters, Nancy, Lynne, and Lela in Montana for weeks at a time was often one of the highlights of her year! When brother Frank joined in the fun, her heart was overflowing. Family was the thing she cherished, and to which tried to hold on, the most. Those that seem lost, though a constant tender bewilderment for her, were no less loved.
She and her daughter moved to Montana in 2011, where Gerry hiked, kayaked and loved to go on trips, and she also became involved in helping train service dogs. Once back in Texas, she lived in New Braunfels, making some great friends. Two precious neighbor girls, Amya and Melody, became extra grandchildren to her. They kept Gerry young and moving until the very end. She was often seen dancing, chasing, pretending to do cartwheels, reading, jumping rope, playing tag with, and loving those little girls.
Gerry cherished family and friends – including those with whom contact was lost. Gerry was meek, but not weak! She was as powerful as a hurricane when she witnessed someone being disrespected or abused. She was known for her kindness, intelligence, ingenuity, faith, her smile and laughter, shyness and boldness, her wisdom, her lists, her moral character, her honesty, her fragility, her strength, her love, and, oh, her quick wit. Gerry’s life was dedicated to giving, even in death. Supporting research of neurodegenerative diseases (including Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s), Gerry donated her brain to San Antonio’s Glenn Biggs Institute, and her savings to Lewy Body Dementia Association. She felt flowers were for the living. Donations can be made in her honor to www.lbda.org/donate.
She requested there be no service.

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  1. I used to be miss Gerry neighbor, I remember that she would always complement me almost every time she saw me. I remember she used to love seeing my dog Lola. When I was moving out of my apartment when my boyfriend left me she would always bring us (my parents and me) snacks and drinks and just chit chat with us about the day. We’ll miss her. It was a blessing to have known such a sweet woman. Our condolences to miss Leslie and her family. God bless.


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