Have You Met?

Gail Johnson has always followed her parents’ advice to give back. “They’re very giving,” she says. “I’m sure that’s where my volunteering comes from.”

The mother of three grown children, Gail has another reason for giving back. “I do all this because I really believe it makes a difference,” says the board president for the Kempe Children’s Foundation Alliance, a nonprofit she started with seven years ago. Gail also serves on the board of Families First and is chair of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation Brass Ring Luncheon in Denver.

“I may never know whom I’ve made a difference for,” Gail points out. In fact, she prefers “that those I help don’t know me.“ Simply put, Gail says, “This is how I contribute.”

A former first-grade teacher, Gail has been volunteering in Denver since 1977 when she and her husband relocated from Cincinnati. “I was a full-time mom and was fortunate I didn’t have to work,” she explains. “Family and volunteer work are closest to my heart and I work hardest at things I love.”

Part of that commitment means attending numerous charity functions, where Gail and George – both trim, always beautifully attired, and always gracious to all – are at the top of Denver’s A-list.

On warm days, Gail makes time for her other passion – being active. “I love hiking, bicycling and playing tennis in warm weather,” she says. “I have always enjoyed bicycling. Everywhere I go here is beautiful.”

What gives person style: A smile, which to me, starts at the eyes.

Favorite thing in closet: A pair of funky black pants made of rayon and chiffon..One leg is cut all the way the way up, with a big ruffle sewn up the side that you see as you walk. I wear it with a strappy knit blouse and crystal belt. Wearing them reminds me of Ricky Ricardo and Lucy and ladies with fruit on their heads.

Favorite clothing store: LaPoint’s (of which I’m a part owner).

Favorite season: Summer.

Favorite kitchen appliance: The telephone,for reservations.

What three things are always in your refrigerator: Cheese (for George), milk, and restaurant leftovers.

If you could have written one song, what would it be: “The Impossible Dream.”

Favorite place in the house: Our back yard. It slopes in three tiers, with trees and a waterfall. It’s just so relaxing and serene; in the summer, we live out there.

Favorite children’s book. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

Other volunteer activities: Vice Chair, American Heart Association’s 2001 Heart Ball and Committee Chair, Hearts for Life Guild.

The biggest worry of chairing a gala: That people are going to have a good time. And, you always want to bring in more money than last year.

Hardest part of chairing a gala: The logistics of putting tables together, and then selling them. For the Nov. 5 Brass Ring fashion show, for example, I’m calling dozens of people who’ve attended in the past. They like hearing from the person in charge.

Who is your hero? Oprah Winfrey. She has made such a huge difference in so many lives.

Favorite quote: Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Chicken tenders and mashed potatoes and gravy.

What was your most memorable meal? I love Thanksgiving. It’s a happy time with family, good food and the fireplace.

Where else would you live? Palm Springs.

What is your pet peeve? When someone says they’ll do something and they don’t do it.

Best gift you ever gave? This is a little out of the box, but it was a gift to myself and a life lesson. We were on a layover coming home from Asia or somewhere. The women at the airline counter was in a bad mood. I said, ‘I love that pin you’re wearing’. She smiled, her expression totally changed. I realized words are powerful and that it was a gift for me to be kind to her.

What is one thing nobody knows about you? Most people would not believe that I’m shy.

Which social event is your favorite? I love having dinner with my husband.

If you could be something other than what you are, what would you be? I would be a dancer; I would be in a play.

What is a favorite childhood memory? As a child I loved Easter. We dressed up, hunted for eggs, went to church and always did something special like go on a picnic or to the country…something a little extra special.

If money were no object, what would you do? Buy an airplane or private jet and take family and close friends around the world.