GAIL ANNE (PETERSON) LAUZZANA
January 12, 1945 - January 23, 2020
Gail (“Guala”) was the first child born to Alfred Peterson, Jr. and Charlotte O’Connor Peterson in Detroit.
She grew up in Three Rivers along with her siblings Alfred (“Pete”), Eric (“Rick”), and Kristin (“Kris”). Guala attended Kingswood Boarding School in Bloomfield Hills and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1967 with a BA in Art History.
During her college years in Ann Arbor, she met and married Raymond Lauzzana, father of Emile and Julian, who was very passionate about art and social justice issues. During the mid-1970s, she was a member of the Powerhouse Women’s Art Gallery in Montreal, Quebec, where she lived and raised her two sons.
In 1976, Guala moved her family to Kalamazoo. There she met Richard “Ricardo” Wyatt, her soulmate, fellow traveller, lover, dedicated friend, and future husband. She became an active member of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and pioneered corporate support for the arts. She established a giving program that provided rotating art installations for area businesses. “The Diaper” is a much-debated fabric wall installation that caused conversation and motivated Guala to hang the piece on her wall until the end of her life. Later she tried her hand at making art in the form of mosaics, which brought her, and others, great pleasure.
When she and Ricardo returned to Ann Arbor in 1988, she joined her family business, Peterson American Corporation, where she would work for three decades as Director of Corporate Communications and a Board Member. In addition to art and social justice projects, Guala was also involved in environmental issues. Whales and the powers of the ocean were a lifelong passion. She shared with many souls the deep wonders of the ocean through her meditative school presentations that involved lying down on the floor and listening to recordings of whale songs. She supported land conservation in Michigan and was happy to recently learn that there will be a bench placed in her name overlooking Lake Michigan.
Emile and Julian are so thankful to her for the attention she gave in teaching them early how to cook and clean for themselves and others. Both Emile and Julian have spent much time growing food in gardens and preparing foods. Her pets have included Jasmine, the 12-toed black cat who lived many lives; Max, who was always welcome as long as he did not pee on your shoes; and Carob, the wayfaring cuddling stranger from her son’s young man fumbles.
Baptized as Catholic, Guala’s early spirituality was shaped by Immaculate Conception in Three Rivers. Through extensive international travel and friendships, she gained a great appreciation for and understanding of other peoples and cultures. Guala wrote, read, and continued learning throughout her life. She spoke multiple languages. Guala and Ricardo later joined People’s Church in Kalamazoo, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. After moving to Ann Arbor, Guala became an active member of The First Unitarian Universalist Congregation. She was heavily involved with the Mindful Eating Coalition and loved her women’s group, the Holy Cows.
She is survived by her husband, Richard “Ricardo” Wyatt, her siblings Pete, Rick, and Kris, her sons, Emile (Cara) and Julian (Palma) Lauzzana, four grandchildren, Raven, Aria, Leif, and Nova, and many other family members. Celebration of Life services will be forthcoming at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor.
If you are inspired to give or do something in Guala’s name, please contribute and provide service to people and organizations in your local community dedicated to the arts, ecology, and social justice in memory of your friendship. As in life, with her passing, Guala wishes to help others to change the world for the better through our acts of beauty, love, giving, and creating. Arrangements by Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, www.mitchellfuneral.com.