Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Former Lisburn woman passes away in the United States

Gladys Bleakley Lawrence on the day of her graduation.A LONG and active life filled with music, travel and caring for others which began in Lisburn more than 83 years ago drew to a close in New York States Orange County earlier this month.

Gladys Bleakley Lawrence, described by her son Glenn Weiser as 'a highly accomplished person whose passing should be noted', died at her home in the town of Tuxedo on October 8. She had visited many parts of the world and made her first transatlantic crossing at the age of just one when her parents Robert and Edith Bleakley decided to leave their home in the Co. Down area of Lisburn to start a new life in America. The harsh economic conditions of the time persuaded them to follow Robert's brother, who was already an established businessman in the USA. Gladys spent most of her formative years in the family's adopted city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was just 18 when she married the late Howard W. Weiser, an aeronautical engineer with the Curtis Wright Corporation of Woodbridge, New Jersey. The couple lived for many years in the New Jersey town of Glenrock where they raised four children - Constance, Patricia, Glenn and Douglas.

The young wife and mother devoted much of her early life to looking after her home and children but decided in her mid-30's to enter nursing. She attended Bergen Pines Nursing School in Paramus, New Jersey, graduating as head of her class at the age of 40. Gladys later earned a Masters Degree in Nursing from the Manhattan College. Eventually, she became a teacher of nursing at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, a town close to Tuxedo. Her marriage to Howard Weiser ended in divorce as did a second, brief marriage to Kenneth Lawrence, a Professor of Engineering at Manhattan College. A third marriage to Lester Goldstein, a nuclear engineer with the Stoller Corporation, ended when Mr. Goldstein passed away in 2006.

Gladys's love of travel took her all over the world. She was a voracious reader and member of a book club while her musical talents also provided her with many friends. She was a gifted amateur pianist with a love of old 'Tin Pan Alley' tunes and sang as an alto in various choral groups.

She is survived by all four of her children who live in the New York and New Jersey areas - Glenn Weiser in Glenmont and Douglas Weiser in Monsey; Connie Sohodski

in Ruby and Patricia Iyer in Stockton. In addition, she is survived by a brother, Albert Bleakle of Fayetteville in Arkansas and he, grandchildren: Matthew Myczack of Springhill, Tennessee; Shoshanna Guiet of London; Raja Iyer of New Dehli; Nathan Iyer of Whitehouse Station, NJ and Andrew Giammatte of Delmar, NY. She is also survived by a son-in-law, Raj Iyer of Stockton, NJ, and two-daughters in-law, Patricia Weiser of Glenmont. NY and Joyce Kessinger of Ruby, NY Her older brother, Harold Bleaklev passed away in 2003.

Gladys's passing has brought sadness to family members on this side of the Atlantic as well. She never forgot her relatives in Northern Ireland and Glenn described her 'in many ways a product of the place'. Indeed, her final trip across the Atlantic was made just last year when she visited her cousins. Pearl Morgan and Mina Mears in Newry. Gladys's funeral service took place in Suffern on October 10 and was followed by a private interment at the Buckingham Friends Meetinghouse Churchyard in Lahaska, Pennsylvania the following day.

Relatives and friends in Northern Ireland who want to pay tribute to Gladys can make donations in her name to the United Hospice of Rockland County, 11 Stokum Lane, New City, NY 10956.

Remembrances of Gladys can be posted on the Internet Web site under the name of Gladys Lawrence.

Fortune teller's prediction came true

THE eulogy at Gladys Lawrence Bleakley's funeral was delivered by her son Glenn Weiser who explained how her father, Lisburn man Robert Bleakley, met her mother Edith, an English woman. "Readers such as Mom and her friends - she was a member of a book club - always love a good story, and I have one about Mom and her family I'll share with you now," he said.

"Mom once told me she was believer in fate, and this is a strange case in point. One day in the fall of 1973 I went with some friends to the seaside town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where my English grandmother Edith -my mother's mother - was living. "My buddies went off to the beach while I dropped in on grandma, whose birthday it happened to be. Over tea at her kitchen table, she told me the following tale.

"When she was 18 and living in Putney, a suburb of London...she went to see a gypsy fortune teller who told her that she would take a short trip across the water, and then a long trip across the water, after which she would not return to England.

"Some time afterwards she was sitting at home in her second-storey flat when she saw a handsome man walking on the street below. She turned to her mother, pointed him out, and announced that this was the man she was going to marry.

"Edith was right. The handsome stranger, a shy young fellow from Northern Ireland named Robert Bleakley, soon turned up as the organist in her church, and he couldn't understand why my grandmother was so crazy about him. But grandma got her man, and the two were married and returned to Northern Ireland. There they had three children, including Mom. That was the short trip across the water. "Times got tough in Ulster, though, so in the mid 1920s my grandfather had to leave Northern Ireland and take his family to Pennsylvania, where his brother had already established himself. That was the long trip across the water.

"Grandpa found work, prospered, and the couple never went back to England except for a brief visit in their later years. The gypsy's prophecy proved true."

Ulster Star