Gloria E. Weisz
Gloria Weisz cuddles with a koala bear at Bondi Beach in Australia in this pictured taken in 2007 or 2008. (Submitted photo / July 14, 2012)
With Paul’s death from pancreatic cancer two years ago, Gloria found herself facing the future without the love of her life.
“They were quite a team. They really, really liked each other,” said daughter Elizabeth “Liz” Wixson of Alexandria, Va.
“When they said ‘I love you,’ it wasn’t just words,” said oldest son Thomas M. “T.M.” Weisz of Evans, Ga.
Liz said she admired “how brave” her mother was while transitioning to life without her husband.
“She wasn’t scared of much,” said son Paul J. Weisz Jr. of Plano, Texas.
“She was 4 feet 11 inches, but mighty,” Liz said. “People called him (Paul Sr.) ‘Colonel.’ The priest called her ‘Sarge.’ She made decisions, barked out orders.”
Gloria’s death was much like her husband’s — unexpected following a brief illness, at the same time of year and at the same age, with their three children at their sides.
The family has gathered from far and wide to celebrate the life of a matriarch who showed them firsthand the importance of family, friends and faith. They learned by example how to make those relationships a priority so they would endure for decades, as well as how much fun life can be.
Gloria Malankowski grew up in a military family, with her father stationed in several locations in the United States, Japan and Germany. She graduated from high school in Germany in 1957, returned to the United States to go to college, then got a teaching job in Germany.
It was while teaching in Germany that she met Col. Paul J. Weisz Sr. over a keg of beer at the Army’s Officers Club.
Paul had grown up poor in Idaho, and his father died while he was in college. He told Gloria within a week of meeting her that he was going to marry her. Six months later, in October 1964, they were wed, the beginning of a 45-year marriage.
Their three children were born in different places — T.M. in Germany, Paul in New York and Liz in Annapolis. They lived the life of a military family overseas, which included three-year stints each in Panama and the Philippines.
The Weisz family returned to the United States in 1978, with Paul stationed at Fort Ritchie. A speech pathologist with Washington County Public Schools, Gloria worked at Bester Elementary School.
They bought a home in Brightwood Acres. The three children graduated from high school in Hagerstown — the boys from South Hagerstown High School and Liz from St. Maria Goretti High School.
After retiring from the military, Paul got a job with Citicorp, the couple choosing to stay here because of their close-knit group of church friends, Liz said.
In their retirement, the Weiszs helped with Dream Come True, a local organization similar to Make-a-Wish. They were involved for 15 to 20 years, and both served on the board.
After Gloria retired, she tutored students in reading at Paramount Elementary School. She also volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate, working on behalf of children in the child-protection system. With six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Gloria had a heart for kids, her children said.
“She soaked it up,” Liz said. “She was the sort of grandparent who got down on the floor and played.”