Leader. Colleague. Community activist. Mother. Grandmother.
Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema was remembered in a multitude of ways at her funeral service in Lafayette on Thursday.
More than 300 people jammed for a Mass of Resurrection that memoralized the longtime elected official who died Sunday morning of ovarian cancer at the age of 73.
Father John Kasper led the service, saying Uilkema was "salt and light" for all those who knew her.
"She brought them to life for our parish and she lived them," said Kasper.
Uilkema was also remembered by family and friends as bright, dedicated, honest and enthusiastic as well as for wearing her signature color red, especially during campaign season.
Lafayette City Councilman Don Tatzin knew Uilkema for 27 years, including her time on the Lafayette council from 1978 to 1996 before her election to the board of supervisors.
Tatzin said Uilkema broke barriers for women as well as raising her family and helping her community.
"Gayle used her time well," said Tatzin.
He recalled that Uilkema was always well prepared at meetings and public events. He asked people to remember her whenever they drive by the Lafayette veterans hall, library and open space, all things she championed.
"By being her best, she made all of us better," said Tatzin.
Former District Attorney Gary Yancey said he admired Uilkema greatly. He said she could be adamant about something she believed in, but the supervisor was always polite and respectful when dealing with someone.
"She was a pleasure to be around," said Yancey.
Uilkema's daughters, Lynn and Sharon, and her granddaughter, Natalie, read a list of things that reminded them of their mother and grandmother.
Among the items mentioned were Peeps candy, the piano, Braveheart, El Charro, the power of the positive thinking, lemon water, John McEnroe, Creedence Clearwater Revival, marigolds, gavels and, most of all, wild rice, which was recited more than a half-dozen times.
Lynn Uilkema said her mother instilled in her a confidence to go out and tackle the world.
"She taught us, as a woman, there was nothing we couldn't do," said Lynn Uilkema.
Uilkema, a native of Detroit, joined the Lafayette Park and Recreation Commission in the early 1970s. She first ran for City Council in 1978 and won. She was an elected official for the next 34 years, still holding office at the time of her death.