The O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation is sad to share the news that our matriarch and one of our founding board members, Harriet Edwards Gamper passed away peacefully at home in Irvington, NY, on March 10, 2015, days after celebrating her 101st birthday with her family and many friends.
Harriet was born at home in Leipsic, Ohio, on March 5, 1914, to O. P. and Josephine Niblick Edwards. Harriet enjoyed a loving, carefree childhood with family and friends, climbing trees, riding her pony and playing basketball. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, she worked as a dietician at Christ Hospital, Cincinnati and, on a blind date, met and later married Charles E. Gamper (Chuck). During World War II, they lived in Washington, D.C., where Chuck worked for the U.S. State Department (and was known to chat with Eleanor Roosevelt on the Mall). After the war, Harriet and Chuck were posted to the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica with their two small children, Jo Ann and David. After their return to the states and quite a few moves and positions, they settled in Irvington, NY, where they raised their children and became involved residents of the village. Harriet fondly recalled great times in the courtyard of her residence (“the Gulch”), such as summer square dances and the Twelfth Night bon fires “mit grog”.
When Chuck died unexpectedly at age 64, Harriet determined to continue her full and involved life. At age 65, she returned to college to obtain a degree in archeology, her passion. Always a student of history, she found projects dear to her heart in preserving open space in the Irvington surrounds, advocating for a clean and environmentally safe Hudson River, playing an active role in the restoration project at Philipsburg Manor, as well as many other causes that helped keep Irvington a “country village.” Harriet was proud to be a founding board member of the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation (and still an active board member until age 100) and a founding board member of the Donald Reed Speech and Hearing Center at Phelps Hospital. She enjoyed the rich cultural life of Irvington and New York City, especially the Fortnightly Club, the Town Hall Theater, the Irvington Historical Society, the Irvington Library, and the Irvington Presbyterian Church.
Harriet was a dedicated citizen who voted in every election until her last breath. As often noted, she would have crawled to the polls on her hands and knees to exercise her right to vote.
Harriet attributed her long and rich life to a grateful, positive attitude (“Go with the flow!” was a favorite motto), to wonderful family, friends and neighbors, to healthy living with good food (especially chocolate!), and regular exercise (she did yoga until just recently). Her last few years were greatly improved by her exceptional caregivers and friends, Marie Duran, Nicole Campbell, Helen Gounga, Waldina Pineda, Steve Gallo and Pat Mulvey and in the end, Jenner Hospice and the loving therapy dog, Andy. All of them allowed her to live an active life in her own home.
Harriet inspired all who knew her with her wide range of interests, her commitment to improving her community and her world, and her zest for life.
Harriet was preceded in death by her husband, Charles, and her son, David. She is survived by her daughter, Jo Ann Eder (with her husband Bert), David’s wife Gisela Gamper, grandsons Christopher Gamper (with his wife Yogeeta, children Maya Gamper Tillo and Jackson and Olivia Gamper) and Mark Eder (with his wife Kim and daughter Coral). She is also survived by her Eder step-grandchildren, Gary, Gloria, Gail, Pat, Sunshine, Georgianna, Glenn and Galen.
A celebration of Harriet’s life will be held later May 24, 2014, at 2:00 pm at the Irvington Presbyterian Church with reception following. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Scenic Hudson (1 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601), the Irvington Historical Society (P.O. Box 23, Irvington, NY 10533), the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation (PO Box 1871, Red Lodge, MT 59068), the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary ( PO Box 675 Red Lodge, MT 59068) or the Vermont Community Foundation (3 Court St., Middlebury, VT 05753)