Growing Up In Florida
Gayle Harrell was born into a military family in Nashville, Tennessee in 1943 while her father, William C. Bauer, Jr. was stationed in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He had been commissioned in the Army in 1936 and was called to Active Duty following his graduation from St. Johns College of Law. He served as an officer in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, completed 28 years of service in the Army Air Corp and Air Force Reserves and attained the rank of Colonel. Her grandfather, Dr. W. Clarence Bauer, served as a First Lt. during World War I in France.
It was in that spirit of service that Gayle was raised and it provided the foundation for her life of service as a devoted wife, a loving mother, a dedicated high school teacher, a successful business woman, and a committed volunteer in our community.
Following World War II Gayle’s family moved to Brooklyn, New York to be closer to other family members and where her father practiced law as part of the Veteran’s Administration. In 1957 the family relocated to Sarasota, Florida where Gayle attended Brookside Junior High School and Riverview High School.
Gayle’s high school career set the stage for her future record of service to the community. She graduated with Highest Honors from Riverview High School in 1961 as part of the second graduating class at the new school.
Her commitment to service was evident from the beginning when she was awarded the American Legion Award for Citizenship and was honored to be selected as an American Field Service Foreign Exchange student to study in Italy. Following graduation, Gayle attended the University of Florida, where she majored in Spanish. She continued her commitment to public service and academic achievement at the University of Florida. She served as President of Panhellenic, Vice President of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, Secretary of the Student Government and was involved in many other organizations.
In 1964, Gayle Harrell received a Bachelor’s Degree and graduated with Honors. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board, the women’s honorary service group and female equivalent to Florida Blue Key at that time. Gayle also was awarded the Edith B. Tigert Award as an outstanding female graduate in 1964 and was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame.
Gayle married her college sweetheart, James E. Harrell, M.D. on December 27, 1964. Her husband was serving as an Intern on the Tulane Service of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.
After finishing his Internship, Dr. Harrell entered the U.S Army for the next 2 years. They were stationed at Ft. Ritchie, Maryland which was located about 10 miles from Camp David in the mountains of Maryland. While in that area, Gayle taught Spanish at South Hagerstown High School in Hagerstown, Md. When James was deployed to Viet Nam in January of 1967, Gayle returned to Gainesville, Fl. where she began work on her Master’s Degree at the University of Florida.
Upon James’ return from Viet Nam, he began a residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. Gayle continued her studies and the young couple were blessed with the birth of two children, Stephanie and Jennifer, during these years.
After finishing the Ob-Gyn program at the University of Florida in 1971, the Harrell’s moved to Stuart, Florida to begin the practice of Ob-Gyn. The Harrell’s then had two more children, James, Jr. and Melinda, in the following few years. Gayle earned her Master’s in 1977 in Latin American Studies (History) and wrote a thesis titled “El Partido de Accion National- A Study of Intra-Party Conflict.”
Gayle continued her service through many community organizations. She was the founding member of several organizations and became president of many organizations in the Stuart area including Hibiscus Children’s Center (a center to help abused children), Helping People Succeed (a center to help individuals with developmental disabilities) and The Martin County Medical Society Alliance.
Gayle served in the Florida House of Representatives representing District 81 from 2000 to 2008. Her efforts in the Florida Legislature resulted in her being awarded multiple Legislator of the Year awards from various organizations. (see Legislative Awards here) She left the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 due to term limits and ran for Congress and lost in the Republican primary by 1006 votes.