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Gloria (Cocozella) Gallo of Lynn, age 91, passed away on Saturday, February 25 at the Rosewood Nursing Home in Peabody after a brief illness. The older of two children, Gloria was born in 1931 to Edward J. and Ann Madeliene (Doucette) Cocozella.
She married the late George Arthur McKenna, Jr. in 1953. The couple had six children before divorce would send each of them on a separate path in 1972. In the same home in which Gloria was raised, she and her second husband — Nicholas Thomas Gallo — began life anew in 1974. They had one child together, but with his untimely death in 1989, Gloria lost the love of her life. A subsequent marriage to Lawrence Linnell in 1993 would result in divorce in 2005.
Born in Lynn, Gloria attended Lynn public schools and graduated from Lynn Classical High School, Class of 1949. As a young woman she had numerous data entry, keypunching, and typing jobs before being employed as a secretary at the General Electric for several years. She left that job to raise her growing family, but was once again able to resume academic studies, earning her associate degree from North Shore Community College in 1985, then her bachelor’s degree from Salem State College in 1988. With new confidence and emboldened by her academic credentials, Gloria began work in the Records Department of the Lynn Police Department in 1988; promoted to Senior Account Clerk, she punched out for the last time in 1997, hop-skipping out the door to embark on the retired life. Perhaps to the bane of management, in her role as shop steward, Gloria was able to hold her head high for the advocacy she undertook on behalf of the union.
Gloria’s early interests show an earnestness, a desire to do “one’s part”, such as volunteering as a Red Cross Nurses’-Aide at the Lynn Hospital and serving as den mother when her oldest was in cub scouts. For the sheer enjoyment of socializing, but also to feel the warm embrace that fellowship endows, she alternatively often found herself drawn to the clamorous and clattering sounds of the bowling alley. She enjoyed, as well, jogging and spending time at the beach, two activities that might seem contradictory — at least physically — but instead reflect perfect opportunities for introspection. It was how this tiny woman, whose life sometimes seemed to stretch her in conflicting directions, was able to impose calm and sanity.
The importance of sisterhood in Gloria’s life was made evident by the existence for years of the “Tuesday 7 Club”. Made up of high school girlfriends, it was an opportunity to share stories, gossip, render advice, and offer steady shoulders in moments of need. Oh, and play cards. Her children never minded when she hosted; the spoils would be promptly devoured, if not upon the departure of the last guest, then the next day.
Gloria became an avid reader of mysteries later in life. Could it be that mysteries, like life itself, rely on uncertainty, the unknowns? Gardening, too, became an interest for her. Again, consider the uncertainty, the unknowns, but — oh, the PROMISE that gardening offers, the unencumbered gifts.
Those who knew Gloria best wouldn’t hesitate to declare that her greatest passion was dancing. In more recent times, she could be found at the Peter A. Torigian Senior Center in Peabody on Thursday mornings dancing to the Big Band music of the Good Ole Salty Jazz Band with lots of friends and one special friend, Bob Rudman.
Throughout her life, Gloria was an animal lover, sharing her home with many wonderful cats and dogs. As uplifting as it was for her to see her own children in her final hours on this earth, the comfort that her cat provided quite successfully competed for her affections, maybe even eclipsing the human touch.
We must wonder what was behind the recognition that seemed a natural thing for people coming into contact with Gloria. Was it the ubiquitous headband that was her fashion signature? Or her lively two-step in the various ballrooms in the region, a magic that never seemed to desert her? Was the easy recognition, instead — and after every consideration —the ferocity with which her diminutive stature surprised those who would challenge her? Born and raised in Lynn, Gloria would make the city her home for her entire life, beginning life on that gentle rise as you ascend Western Avenue heading out of the city. Ending there, too.
Gloria is survived by one son Stephen S. McKenna of Lynn, four daughters Laurie C. McKenna and her husband John “Rick” Kasten, III of Rockport, Beth A. McKenna-Ford of Rockport, Amy McKenna-Jones and her husband Todd Jones of Key West, FL, Nicole C. Mallett and her husband January of Lynn, a daughter-in-law Joyce McKenna of Salisbury, ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by her oldest child George A. McKenna, III and her son James M. McKenna, and her brother Edward F. Cocozella.
Services Details: Gloria’s Memorial Services will be private and her ashes will be interred in Pine Grove Cemetery with her second husband Nicholas Thomas Gallo at a later date.