July 28, 1930 – September 20, 2007
By Lynn Cataldo
Gloria Christian in her Roller Derby Days.
It’s Monday night, 6:30 pm. I finish my last home care treatment on Shelter Island. There is one more stop before getting on the ferry to go home– Gloria and Randi’s. Their door is open and the porch light is on. Gloria and Randi are in their respective recliners and the TV is blaring. Gloria tells me to go use the bathroom (an occupational hazard from being “on the road” all day) and to get a cold bottle of water out of the fridge. Then I settle into their oh so comfortable couch and Randi tosses me 3 chocolate kisses from across the room. Gloria begins to recount current happenings and old stories and our weekly visit begins …
Gloria was tough. She loved a good argument, a good steak and wrangling a good bargain. When she was young she roller skated in the roller derby. She auditioned for it on a dare and became captain of the Jersey Jolters. She was an astute investor and business woman. Her advice on any venture: “Honey, do the math … ” She was the first woman to become a real estate independent fee appraiser for the state of NJ. She was very proud of that. But the work made her lungs bad.
She did have her weaknesses: detective stories (she was a non stop reader), a nice tomato from Sep’s farm stand, orange muffins, kitty-cats and dachshunds. She and Randi showed their dachshunds and won awards. Gloria, herself, had quite a bark. Her honesty and sense of fair play was steadfast. She had her opinions and she did not mince words. Her favorite phrase: “We laughed like hell”. Gloria’s family and friends were the world to her. Randi, her partner of 37 years was her life. This past summer, she threw herself a wonderful birthday party where her friends and family all met. She enjoyed watching everyone meet the people they had heard about in all her stories. She knew what she was doing. She was taking care of business, making sure everything was in order.
When I picked up the local paper to read her obituary, I was afraid of seeing Gloria’s life in objective print because there was nothing “objective” about the Gloria I knew. When I opened the paper, I was not disappointed. The newspaper had put in the wrong picture with the wrong caption. I could hear Gloria yelling, “Those dumb shits!” and then she laughed like hell.
A brief story of Randi Gano and Gloria Christian can be found by going to Randi’s Legacy page.
An overview of the extraordinary times of Roller Derby standout, Gloria Christian can be found at Derby Memoirs. It’s well worth the read.