Pauline Gourlay, 1919-2020

Pauline Gourlay working in her lab

Pauline Gourlay died on October 14, 2020 in Dearborn, Michigan at the age of 100. She was born Pelagia Bogush in Detroit on November 8, 1919 to John Bogush and Paraskievia Labaz Bogush. She was the fifth of six children, and she died as the last remaining sibling. In a family that immigrated to the United States before World War I from a part of Europe that is now in western Ukraine, she was like most first-generation immigrants in that she aspired to be as American as possible and had little interest in her Ukrainian background. As a child growing up during the Great Depression, she became hard working, frugal, and dismissive of things she saw as luxuries.

She earned a B.S. degree from Wayne State University and worked as a medical technologist. She married Stewart Gourlay in 1944, becoming a stay-at-home mom to raise her three children. After that she returned to the medical workforce, eventually retiring from her final job as a teaching technologist in the bacteriology lab at Henry Ford Hospital.

Pauline had many friends and was very helpful and generous to her family. After retirement, she and Stewart moved to Dearborn, where they became active members of the Dearborn Congregational Church.  Prior to that, the family attended Westminster Presbyterian Church of Detroit, where she developed a love for the church’s children’s summer camp, Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have attended camp there and continue to actively support that ministry today.

Pauline has always valued education, stressing the importance to her children.  During retirement, Pauline and Stewart enjoyed traveling, and participated in several Elderhostel trips, which they enjoyed because of the educational opportunity they offered.  As an artistic outlet, she enjoyed creating colorful leaded-glass window scenes and lamps. After Stewart’s death she chose to move to Henry Ford Village Senior Living Community, where she lived the rest of her years. There she was known as an excellent Scrabble player, and she continued to play Scrabble with her friends even after her dementia limited her in most other ways. Her body gradually gave out and she died peacefully.

She is survived by her three children, John (Kathie) Gourlay, Bill (Ann) Gourlay, and Nancy (John) Morrison, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held in June, 2021, during which her ashes were placed alongside those of her husband, Stewart. Donations in Pauline’s memory may be made to Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake, at 17567 Hubbell Ave, Detroit MI 48235.

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Pauline Gourlay working in her lab
Pauline Gourlay at work in a lab

One response to “Pauline Gourlay, 1919-2020”

  1. […] recently saw the passing of my grandmother, but she was not the first person to come to mind when I started thinking this morning about people […]

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