Gloria Palazzo

Longtime Guadalajara and Lakeside resident Gloria Palazzo passed away at the Casa Nostra nursing home on Friday, August 12, 2022. She was a talented writer known for her wit and unique point of view as well as an artist working in various medias. She is survived by her three sons, Steven, Robert and John Schussler.

Gloria Palazzo was a wonderful woman whom I knew for 21 years. When I first met her, she was living in Guadalajara but would ride along with a friend to attend the weekly writers’ group meetings at the Lake Chapala Society. After a few weeks of listening to the readings of participants, she decided to try her hand at writing herself. Her very first piece chronicled a telephone conversation with a former husband and after hearing it, I knew that I wanted her as a friend, so when she made the decision to move to Ajijic, I invited her to join a group of women writers who met at my house. Her development as a writer was incredible.  A few years later, we published an anthology entitled Agave Marias and Gloria had ten pieces in­­­ it––each one of them reflecting her facility with words, her sense of humor and her sterling wit.

In the years since then, Gloria and I became best friends and I came to appreciate her talents in not only writing but also art. Her house is filled with the fruits of her labor: painting, sculpture, collage, printmaking and batik. Everything she set her hand to, she excelled in. Her spirit of adventure also extended to travel that took her from her native New York City to Florida, then to years living on both rims of the Grand Canyon. In her sixties, she joined the Peace Corps and went to Ecuador, finally coming to rest in Mexico a few years later.

When I saw Gloria the last time, a few hours before her death, I spent our final hours reading to her the stories she had written for Agave Marias. Although I had no idea at the time that her end was so near, it seemed a fitting reward for her years of creativity for her to be immersed in her own words, and in like manner, trying to think of a fitting memorial, it seemed appropriate that our offerings be offerings of words which I have collected here into a bouquet presented from her friends, acquaintances and family:

From Judy Reeves, writer  and conductor of our yearly writing retreats:

“Gloria Palazzo—a confession: I loved to look at her, especially when she wasn’t looking at me, so I could observe (as we writers will). First, what a beauty, then, before I knew her, the classic structure of her face (those cheekbones), eyes that I imagine many a lover was lost to…and even as the years and life do to us what they do, still, that beauty remained and I noticed and noted. I wish I had some of those classic, one-of-a-kind lines she came up with as we wrote together or shared our meals and our memories. I admire that she was so herself. I remember loving her six-word memoir. I can’t say it here, but I do remember. It had to do with men, lovers, as many of her stories did. I liked that she was a passionate woman, sensuous or sensual, and her humor about all that.”

From Harriet Hart, another Agave Marias writer and long-time friend:

“In 2018 my husband and I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and visit The Galapagos Islands. To get there you fly to Ecuador, and since I knew Gloria Palazzo had spent time there working for the Peace Corps, I called her for advice. “I wasn’t a tourist,” she said apologetically, but gave me what help she could. When I returned, I told her how wonderful Quito was, but complained that I didn’t have time to shop and I really wished I could have bought a textile. A few weeks later at a writing group at La Nueva Posada, she said “Come to my car with me. I have something to show you.” There, rolled up, was an extraordinary tapestry. “You can have it,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed it for twenty-five years, now it’s your turn.” Gloria had spent two years in a village of weavers, and this was their parting, thank you gift to her. The following week she had Paul & me over for coffee and pastries, and showed us her photo albums of Ecuador. The tapestry now hangs on my wall, a personal treasure from a special place, given to me by an exceptional woman.”

From her son Robert:

“As a single mother of three boys, she tried nonstop to provide healthy meals to the boys. The family dog ate much Liver under the kitchen table. She ate BBQ Monkey Brains with the Ecuadorian Natives in the forest after traveling with Chickens and Goats on Public Transportation. Never stopped exploring or trying new experiences. Walked across the Grand Canyon multiple times. Traveled around the world on a Freighter by herself. To hell with eyebrows and eye shadow.”

From Robert Deslauriers, a relatively new friend:

“Gloria was strong-willed and determined to push on with life no matter what. Nothing, it seemed, could slow her down. She had a plan. Hearing and seeing the waves slapping land was dear to her as it served as a reminder of her childhood living off the U.S. east coast. In late 2019, while recuperating from a major operation, she jumped at the opportunity to pack a bag and head for the Mexican Pacific coast to enjoy warmer weather and the waves. As it turned out, this is where she had the first of several falls.  She never returned home, living the rest of her life in hospitals and a long-term residence.  Covid was upon us but she managed to dodge it.  Her mind would drift back to her childhood roots when asked if she wanted anything next time I would visit. A Reuben sandwich, she would ask, but none tasted like the original, she admitted with a grin on her face.   

Her Ajijic home was like a museum, every wall covered with artifacts, paintings, and a slew of her own creations.  While house-sitting (no pets allowed) for her during her final years, I enjoyed reading a wide array of books about her travels across the United States and South America. She had libraries in every room. She will be in my heart, for the rest of my life. Lesson learned: you can keep a low profile and still leave your mark on this planet.”

September 2022 Issue

El Ojo del Lago – Home Page

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2 thoughts on “Gloria Palazzo”

  1. For some reason, my name was left off as creator of this tribute to Gloria. She was a dear friend and although the Ojo does not print obituaries, they agreed to publish this tribute consisting of quotes by different friends that I had collected. The first section is by me. I welcome comments here or on my blog by other friends who have anecdotes about Gloria.

    More pictures of Gloria are available on my blog site. R.I.P., dear friend.

    Reading this preterite account of Gloria.
    wishing you knew her by hearing her story.
    Heart touching words only a friend could give
    with the love of memories who saw her live.
    It makes you wish that you knew her too
    but too late to know her so what to do.
    But she left an account of her life.
    Her loves and also of her strife.
    So I must know more of her
    to bring light to my blur
    please do tell me more,
    keeping open her door.
    For we hope our life lives on
    through memories when we are gone.
    An impressive life will be seen once again
    by memories of others who knew her as a friend~!
    Thanks to Judy Brown and this account by others who have vicariously introduced me to her, expressing both her joys and sorrow, but for me too late~! Except through beautiful memories of someone I so wish I could have known in person.

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