Gaydell Hara Maier was born to Jean and Harry Maier on June 28, 1935, in Garden City, New York. Brother Gary joined the family two years later. Gaydell often spoke with great affection about her parents, brother, and grandparents, saying she had the best of childhoods. “I grew up surrounded by books, fascinated by stories, especially of horses and dogs-and dreaming of Wyoming. Although I grew up on the east coast, I always knew my home was in Wyoming.”
While attending the University of Wyoming, Gaydell met Roy Hugh Collier and they married in New York on December 27, 1955. They soon came to live in the Cowboy State. To that union were born four children: Sam Patrick, Frank Robert, Jenny Gaydell and Seda Jane.
During the family’s tenure in Laramie, Gaydell collaborated with her life-long friend, Eleanor Prince, authoring Basic Horsemanship: English and Western; Basic Training for Horses: English and Western; and Basic Horse Care. While living in the Harmony area, southwest of Laramie, Gaydell worked as circulation manager at the University of Wyoming library.
In 1977, Roy and Gaydell purchased their dream ranch near Sundance, Wyoming, where Gaydell became Crook County Library Director for fourteen years. She also operated her ranch bookstore, “Backpocket Books.” Her publications continued in periodicals, reviews, anthologies and magazines.
Another wonderful collaboration with dear friends and co-editors Nancy Curtis and Linda Hasselstrom produced the well-known series Leaning Into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West in 1997; Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West in 2004; and Woven on the Wind: Women Write about Friendship in the Sagebrush West, in 2001. Her last book and delightful memoir, Just Beyond Harmony, was published in 2012. Among the many awards and accolades, perhaps her most cherished was the prestigious Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award for Literature presented in 2004.
Gaydell was a long-time devoted member of the Christian Science Society. Anyone who knew her understood the deep and abiding commitment to her faith. She was a charter member of Bearlodge Writers and Wyoming Writers, Inc. and a sustaining member of Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America. Writer, reader, editor, horsewoman, naturalist, librarian, lover of opera and chocolate, artist, mentor, caregiver, and cherished friend, she brought laughter and an exuberance for life to those who knew and cherished her.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Roy; daughter Jenny; son Frank; and brother, Rev. Gary E. Maier. She is survived by her son, Sam (and Pam) and their children Kaitlyn and Jacob; daughter, Seda (and Kristin) and their children Trinidad and Samuel; daughter Jenny’s children, Ray (Faye), Corina (Jeremy), Earl (Chelsie) and Kathleen, son-in-law, Jim Gilbertson, and great-grandchildren, Tyler and Kassidy; sisters-in-law, Nancy Maier and Marilyn Maier, and nieces and nephews Karen Mohr, Jonathan, David, and Kathleen Maier. Her family was her heart’s treasure.
Memorial service will be at Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapel, 450 7th St., Spearfish, SD, at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, January 24, 2013.
In lieu of flowers donations to: SunCatcher Therapeutic Riding Academy, P.O. Box 3975, Rapid City, SD 57709; The Christian Science Society of Spearfish, SD; or The Gaydell Collier Memorial Scholarship, (A Wyoming Writers, Inc. Conference Registration and membership given annually to an aspiring author) Bearlodge Writers, Box 204, Sundance, WY 82729.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Crematory Service of Spearfish, SD. Online Condolences may be left at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com