Phyllis L. (Nee Penney) Gaul
May 29, 1925 – June 25, 2020
After a 95 year adventure on earth, our amazing Mom peacefully left on her final flight June 25, 2020 surrounded by her children and propelled by their limitless admiration and love for her. Predeceased by husband Richard and brother Robert, she is survived by her 4 children: Kathy (Rob), Penney (Martin), Richard (Kim) and Geoffrey (Deborah), and her grandchildren Kathleen, Edmond, Tyler, Nicole, Aidan, Madeleine, Dylan and Michael.
Born in St. John’s, NL, Mom spent her early years in Harbour Grace, a place of significance in aviation history. Often she and classmates would abandon school and race to the airstrip whenever an international aviator was expected to land. It was there in May 1932 that Mom met Amelia Earhart who just hours later took off on her historic solo trans-Atlantic flight. That encounter planted in Mom a lifelong passion for flying. Mom attended Acadia University but returned to St. John’s during World War II where she worked with the RN and the RCN. In 1946, she moved to Gander, where she was a member of the ground crew with KLM airlines and also became an active member of the local flying club. On July 15, 1947, Mom completed her first solo flight in a Piper Cub. On August 10, 1947 she became Newfoundland’s first licensed female pilot, solidifying her position in aviation history. Mom continued to fly while in Gander, where she also checked out in a Tiger Moth, on wheels as well as floats and skis. The City of Gander has recognized her impressive aviation accomplishments by naming one of its roads “Penney Avenue”.
In 1950 Mom moved to Montreal, QC with KLM where she married Dad, another proud Newfoundlander, two years later. With the arrival of children, Mom’s flying days were suspended, but her spirit and sense of adventure prevailed. Her kindness, encouragement and unconditional love, as well as her ability to know when to turn a blind eye to certain teenage hijinks, combined to make the most amazing parent. She returned to the work force and the world of travel as a travel agent first in Pointe-Claire, QC and later in Vancouver, BC where she and Dad incorporated a successful international travel agency. Retirement did not lead to idleness: she volunteered in seniors’ care, enjoyed exciting times as a movie extra, travelled extensively, and enthusiastically took on her most favorite role as Gramma.
After relocating to Victoria, Mom again sought to soar amongst the clouds. At the young age of 88, she had her final experience in the cockpit when she flew in the co-pilot’s seat of a Victoria Flying Club Cessna 172.
Mom’s joie de vivre, sense of humour, and thirst for adventure never waned. She was a dear and loyal friend, always quick with a smile and laugh. “You can do anything if you try” and “the sky’s the limit” are two of her mottos that are now instilled in all of us. Special thanks to Dr. Phil Prendergast and the staff at Parkwood Court whose dedication and kindness meant so much to her.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Flowers are gratefully declined. If desired, donations can be made in Mom’s honour to the North Atlantic Aviation Museum at www.northatlanticaviationmuseum.com.
Phyllis L. (Nee Penney) Gaul
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
John David Poulain
March 4, 2021
Dear Aunt Phyll My family and I are so sad to learn of your passing. I retired from Air Canada after 38 years and the wife(Hui Qin Zhu) and I went to China for 6 months little did we know our stay would be much longer. Oh Aunt Phyll what a thrill it was to visit you and Uncle Richard (my Godfather) in Pointe-Claire.You and the family were such nice people.You and Mom (Evelyn Poulain) were such Good friends and how you and Mom exchanged the same Birthday card for so long! When you came to Mississauga to visit us we went to the air museum to see A Tiger Moth and found your name in the famous women aviators gallery.How we loved to tell you about our trips to China over the last 25 years.Thank you for all the Chinese New Years Greetings! Good Bye Dear AuntThank you for all your kindness to my Mom,My family,and myself.To your family what a wonderful Mom We will never forget you! John David Poulain,Hui Qin Zhu,and Shen Lun Zhu.Good bye dear friend.
July 23, 2020
Growing up I spent many hours at the Gaul house with Penney and family. Mrs. Gaul was always welcoming and fun to be around, I have great childhood memories of those times. What an accomplished woman Phyllis was, she had a long and exciting life. May she rest in peace.
July 7, 2020
It was an honour to meet Phyllis. I remember her flight 6 years ago in the Cessna 172: Kathy was aboard, too. Condolences to all...MW, Victoria.
July 7, 2020
To all the family and especially to Geoff and Deborah's my sincere condolences. Nous pensions a vous et nos prieres sont avec vous.
Pauline et Isabelle (école Victor-Brodeur)
July 6, 2020
I was sorry to read the passing of Mrs. Gaul my sincere condolences to you all. Mrs Gaul was indeed a special lady. I remember the day she returned to Carlton House after her final flying experience with the Victoria Flying Club she was so excited. I always felt a special kinship to your mother due to the fact a young girl in Perth Scotland I too flew in a Tiger Moth. We had many an interesting conversation. She was a real asset to Carlton House and was so gracious at welcoming all our newcomers. We were sorry to see her leave for additional support.
My kind regards to you all and it was a privilege knowing your Mother.
Seona Stephen (Retired)
Executive Director, Carlton House of Oak Bay.
July 5, 2020
I often thought of your mother and her great strength and determination.
It was a pleasure and privilege to have met her and cared for her.
A lady of great integrity who was a true marvel.
I missed her after she moved from the Carlton
To Kathy and Geoff my thoughts are with you during this time
You were always there for your mom when she needed you and she often spoke of how comforting that was
Soaring high and deeply missed
July 4, 2020
Geoff & Deb,
Deepest condolences to you and your family.
From Rick & Sandy Whitney
July 4, 2020
I was so sorry to hear about your mom. I met your Mom a few years ago while I was on a layover in Victoria. I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with her and having dinner with her.
Being from Newfoundland myself and a Female pilot I had read about your mom while I was learning to fly. She was a legend and I feel absolutely honoured to have known her. I have attached a photo of the day I met her.
Blue Skies Phyllis.
July 1, 2020
Dear Richard, Geoff, Penney and Kathy,
I offer my deepest sympathies to you and your families for the passing of your dear Mom. I have come to know your Mom through Richard's shared experiences as her son, your brother and a young man in awe of who his Mom was and what she accomplished. A remarkable woman, mother and grandmother, no doubt you all miss her tremendously.
With heartfelt sympathy, Jill