Gayle Watkins was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1952 and was raised in Dayton, Ohio until she was in the 6th grade. The family relocated to Washington, DC for her father’s work with Goodwill Industries, and then returned to Ohio two years later. Gayle got her undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University, initially thinking she’d get into social work like her parents. It turned out shereally liked law and political science, so she applied to Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland and moved here in 1975. Because she hadapplied a bit late she was only able to enroll in night classes, and took a job during the day as a Law Clerk with the Washington County’s District Attorney’s Office. There were assigned seats in the classroom and Gayle was seated next to Fred, a Deputy Sheriff by day, who was also studying law at night. They struck up a relationship and married in 1978. Gayle passed her bar exam in 1979 and became a Deputy District Attorney for four years, then ran a private practice for a few years, while simultaneously raising her two daughters, born in 1982 and 1985. She worked for the Department of Justice for four years, eventually became a Circuit Court Judge and retired in 2013.
Because both Gayle’s mother and father were blind, she helped with the cooking from the time she could stand on a chair next to her mother in the kitchen. They’d put newspapers down on the floor to collect whatever fell as they cook ed, then scoop up the paper and throw it away. Up until she was an adult, Gayle thought all families did that, but then learned that her mother did it to ensure the floor stayed clean, knowing she wouldn’t be able to see the dirt. Every year Gayle’s mother and grandmother would argue about the Thanksgiving turkey. Since they each had an opinion on how it should be made, they took turns every year making the turkey and then complained about the other’s turkey the entire meal. Finally, when Gayle was 15 years old, she had enough of the bickering and took over the entire thanksgiving dinner for the family from then on, and no one complained. Gayle loves cooking and donates a gourmet dinner for eight every year to the Rotary Club (she’s a member) and Bag & Baggage Theatre Company, of which Gayle is the Chair. She used to have to do a practice meal for her friends, but now that she’s a seasoned professional, she just dives in and cooks for eight, no problem! Everyone Gayle cooks for enjoys her dishes. We hope you do, too!