Irene Marie Sommer Gamble, 94, widow of Wilfred Gamble, died Feb. 21, 2010, after a long illness.

Born May 20, 1915, she was the daughter of John Sommer and Marie Haantz Sommer of North Bergen, N.J. She was educated at Hoboken Academy, Centenary College for Women in Hackettstown N.J., and New College at Columbia University in New York, where she received a bachelor of arts and a master’s degree in education, speech and dramatics.

She met her husband, Wilfred Gamble, at Columbia when he tried out for a play she was casting. After their marriage in 1939, she joined him as a teacher at the school where he was principal, the Lincoln School in Marion, Ala. This was a groundbreaking private school for African American children, with a biracial faculty, run by the Congregational Board of Home Missions. She maintained close contact with both staff members and students throughout her life, and was proud to see many of her students become educators and leaders in the civil rights movement. Coretta Scott King, who was one of those students, later wrote that her college studies “never taught me anything you didn’t teach me at Lincoln School.”

Upon Wilfred’s discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1945, the Gambles moved to Southbury, Conn., where they were involved in town, church and school activities for over 35 years. Irene taught fifth grade for many years in nearby Woodbury. Toward the end of her career she became a speech therapist for the Woodbury school system.

The Gambles summered in Maine, and in 1980 they moved to Tenants Harbor. They became active members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Rockland. Irene was very involved in the PBMC Auxiliary, working on many aspects of the annual Pen Bay Christmas Fair. For several years she ran the ornaments group and organized production of the advent calendars that are still used in so many homes in the Midcoast area and beyond. She was an avid reader and was part of the Tenants Harbor book group for many years, where she is remembered for her excellent book reviews. She kept up to date on anything concerning education and gave the education reports at meetings of the American Association for University Women. She loved crossword puzzles, travel, good conversation, her old houses in Connecticut and Maine, and, above all, her family, including her cat, Knox.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Richard Kahn of Tenants Harbor, with whom she has lived for the past eight years; her grandson, Ian Kahn and his wife, Suzanne Hamlin Kahn, of Portland; her granddaughter, Gillian Kahn Hargreaves and her husband, Andrew Hargreaves, of Landing, N.J.; and her great-grandchildren, Virginia Thomas, Aidan Kahn, Elijah Kahn, Oliver Hargreaves and Madeline Hargreaves. They will always remember her as “Greenie.”

Arrangements are with the Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home of Rockland. A memorial service will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Pen Bay Healthcare, 22 White St., Rockland, ME 04841; or to the Lincolnite Club Inc., P. O. Box 434, Marion AL 36756.

To sign Mrs. Gamble’s online guestbook, visit obituaries at