We were very sad to receive the news that Gloria MacRae recently passed away. Gloria was actively involved with Mano a Mano, in many ways and for decades, and she will be missed. Our best wishes are with Gloria’s many family and friends.
Star Tribune Obituary
MacRae, Gloria was born in Empress, Alberta, Canada on July 4, 1926. After graduating from high school (in a class of one), Gloria moved with her family to Calgary, Alberta. Gloria moved to the U.S. to pursue her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Texas, and then worked as a research assistant for a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia. During that time, she became interested in Social Work and decided to make a career change, enrolling in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Minnesota. After graduating, she spent six months traveling the globe. When she returned, she began her work for Ramsey County and then Anoka State Hospital, working with children, adolescents, and mentally ill adults. In 1990, she retired, and became her church’s official social worker (with a salary of $2 a year). She also volunteered to teach conversational English for many years. And, most dear to heart, she became involved in Mano a Mano, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing health care and public-health education to impoverished Bolivian communities. Over the years, Gloria raised enough money to build 2 clinics in Bolivia: Clinica Gloria I and Clinical Gloria II. Gloria’s mantra was “Life is good”, and she certainly lived life to the fullest. She leaves behind her nieces, Brenda (Dale) and Sandra (Rick), as well as many great nieces and nephews, and one great-great niece. She also leaves behind many friends who consider her an incredible blessing in their lives. Please join us for a Memorial Service on June 17, 1:00 PM at Macalester Plymouth United Church. Live streaming available through the church’s website. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Gloria’s name may be sent to: Mano a Mano International, 925 Pierce Butler Route, St Paul, MN 55104. manoamano.orgPublished on June 11, 2023
Celebrating Gloria’s 95th Birthday
On July 4th, 2021, Gloria MacRae, one of Mano a Mano’s most dedicated volunteers, celebrated her 95th birthday! Gloria loves a party, but due to COVID-19 restrictions we weren’t able to celebrate in person with her the way she would like to. For every birthday since 1996, it’s become a tradition for Gloria to encourage friends to make a donation to Mano a Mano in her honor. Gloria made a $25 donation to Mano a Mano during our first year in 1994 and then, as she says, ‘it took over her life’. So this year we asked Gloria’s many friends & family to send birthday cards and happy birthday wishes by video, and our co-founders Joan and Segundo Velasquez would surprise Gloria and share them with her in a smaller in-person gathering. (Sholom Home Care, where Gloria lives, currently has a two visitor limit.) For her 95th birthday, Mano a Mano Co-Founders Joan and Segundo spent the evening with her at Sholom Home Care earlier this week: reading her many birthday cards to her, showing a video with birthday wishes sent by Gloria’s friends & family to Mano a Mano, and celebrating with her favorite French Silk pie. Mano a Mano received about $4,000 in honor of Gloria’s birthday this year; something that has been a tradition with Gloria and Mano a Mano for 20+ years. Gloria shared her thanks in this video:
She is an amazing person that has touched so many lives, and we are happy that we were able to brighten her birthday this year to have, as Gloria says in the video, “one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had; it’s so much fun to be 95.”
Gloria’s Many Connections with Mano a Mano
Below are just a few of the many ways Gloria was a part of Mano a Mano:
Fundraising and Building the “Gloria” Clinics
When we celebrated Gloria’s 70th birthday in 1996, we kept secret that more than 100 of her friends were raising funds to build the first Mano a Mano clinic in her name, “Clinica Gloria”. Imagine her surprise when we presented the gift: enough seed funding to build two clinics, Clinica Gloria I and Clinica Gloria II. These projects were what helped get our clinic program off the ground. (Mano a Mano’s network of 182 clinics in Bolivia had 1,129,712 patient visits in 2022.)
Selling Donated Wine Glasses from Northwest Airlines
For her 75th birthday we had a new challenge. Northwest Airlines had donated 8,000 crystal glasses to Mano a Mano, which we planned to sell as a fundraiser. Gloria was our best salesperson; she even began carrying glasses in her purse to sell for $2 each to everyone she knew, and we raised over $16,000!
Unofficial “Official” Greeter at Mano a Mano Events
Collector of Mobility Equipment
For most of the past 20 years, in the US office we expected to receive a phone call once a month or so: it was Gloria letting us know she had some item of mobility equipment or medical supplies that she had found at Sholom Home Care, ready for us to pick up to send to Bolivia. She kept a steady supply of Mano a Mano brochures to pass out, always ready to share our story and help however she could.
We are so grateful to Gloria for being a true friend, and our condolences and best wishes as we remember and celebrate her life. She will be missed.