Gail D. MacArgel, age 81 of St. Peters, MO, passed away on July 5th, 2020 after a long illness.
Most obituaries attempt to paint a snapshot of a person’s life. While a picture paints a thousand words this extended obituary is our attempt at using words to paint a beautiful picture of a wonderful, talented woman’s life.
Gail was born Gail Ruth Dochat in Lancaster, PA on July 1st, 1939. She fell in love with horses at an early age and became a pretty good horse-woman in her early preteen and teen years, riding in some local area New Jersey horse shows.
She was a varsity cheerleader and played field hockey in high school. She was quite a swimmer in her teens, training for the 1960 Olympics in the 50 and 100 yard sprints with the Rutgers Men’s Eastern Sprint Champion. She graduated from Highland Park, H.S., in NJ, and attended Rutgers University into her Sophomore year.
She married Robert MacArgel of Colonia, NJ on May 10th, 1958 in Highland Park, NJ and embarked, supporting her husband on a 23 year military career in the US Air Force. During this time, she received an Associate of Arts "AA" degree from Okaloosa Walton Jr. College in Niceville, FL with high honors.
Gail loved salt water fishing ever since she was seven years old fishing from the rocks at the Manasquan inlet in NJ for large 10 to 16 pound bluefish. She became an excellent fisher-woman on Chesapeake Bay during Bob’s assignment to Tactical Air Command Headquarters (TACHQ) in the early 70’s and enjoyed competing with Bob’s male fishing buddies, catching big bluefish and often besting the best of them.
Gail’s dad taught her police judo in her mid-teens which she employed in marvelous fashion in Squadron Officer School (SOS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama during 1965-1968 as the primary demonstrator of defensive techniques for women on a team of SOS instructors, teaching over 700 SOS student officers' wives how to protect themselves in difficult and dangerous situations.
She had a special affinity for large dogs, especially German Shepherds. She raised Kurt, her first shepherd in the late 50’s. He became the largest German Shepherd in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Joey, her second shepherd, was raised in the late 60’s and became Gail’s faithful companion. He showed his true worth as a family guard dog the very night Bob departed the states to fly combat out of Thailand. Joey placed himself on guard in the hallway leading to the bedrooms every night, until Bob’s return a year later. He scared away an intruder attempting to break in from the attic to possibly harm Gail and her children. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when she decided to raise a purebred Shepherd, Mark, for show. He won some awards in puppy and young dog shows but Gail found she could not continue training, showing him, and immersing herself in her art, so he became a wonderful family pet, especially guarding Kevin, her youngest son.
She started her art career in 1970 in Mesa, AZ, painting many desert and Native American Indian scenes. She continued painting fairly large canvases to include large beach and marine scenes while living in Fort Walton Beach, FL, in the late 70s.
Gail put down her paintbrush for several years to try her hand at writing short stories, a novel, and publishing a book of Haiku and many poems, receiving the prestigious Golden Poet award twice.
She then picked up palette and brush in the late 80s, but it wasn’t until 2002 when she completely devoted herself to exclusively painting miniatures in oils to begin a 17-year career in miniature art. She became one of the foremost miniature artists in the U.S. and internationally. She called her style “soft realism.”
Among her many awards, she won Best-of-Show in the 2006 Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF) show, the largest and most prestigious miniature art show, and she won Best-of-Show in the 2012 Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society (MPSGS) of Washington, D.C. show, the oldest miniature art show in the U.S.
She won many Best-of-Show awards at other significant shows to include Parklane Gallery, Kirkland, WA; Sierra Artist Gallery, CA; Art Gallery of Fells Point, MD; Council for the Arts, Chambersburg, PA: Moncks Corner, SC; and St. Peters Cultural Art Center, MO. She won many other awards, well over 100, which are too numerous to mention.
Two of her favorite galleries to show her miniature works have been the Seaside Art Gallery in Nags Head, NC, and Gallery One in Mentor, OH, one of the largest art galleries in the U.S. She also loved to participate in the Midwest Gathering of Artists (MGA) show in Carthage, MO, for many years.
Gail’s paintings have been on display in four World Federation of Miniaturists (WFM) exhibits: Smithsonian; Tasmania, Australia; Washington, D.C.; and Moscow, Russia.
Her fabulous works have hung in many prestigious galleries throughout the U.S. She has paintings in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, and Australia.
She was a signature member of the Miniature Artists of America (MAA), Cider Painters of America (CPA), and the Hilliard Society of England (HS). Gail was also a member of the Oil Painters of America (OPA), Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF), and Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society (MPSGS) of Washington, D.C.
She appeared in the “American Artists Magazine” of April 2006. Gail is written up in the notable book “Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America” by Wes Siegrist, published in 2010. She is considered to be among the top 50 miniature artists in the world and some placed her among the top 10 miniature artists during her fairly brief 17 years as a miniaturist.
She was one of the most prolific, if not actually the most prolific miniaturist, producing over 1,400 highly-detailed and complex works from 1 x 2 inches to a maximum of 5 x 5 inches, many times using a brush with one red squirrel hair. During her 17-year career as a miniature artist, Gail did find some time to put down her brush and relax; joining a women’s bowling league, building her average to a respectable 170.
During her art career she owned and operated two art galleries; one in Fort Walton Beach, FL, and one in St. Charles, MO.
She taught painting in Fort Walton Beach for several years and held several workshops in various cities.
Gail was predeceased by her father, retired Rutgers University Professor George W. Dochat, her mother Helen Dochat, and one of her beloved sons Scott R. MacArgel of Valparaiso, FL.
She is survived by her loving husband of 62 years, Lt. Col. Robert E. MacArgel, USAF (Ret.) of St. Peters, MO; her beloved son Kyle B. MacArgel of Lynn Haven, FL.; her beloved son Kevin P. MacArgel of Santa Cruz, CA; her loving sister Joan Valeri of Lakewood, NJ; six grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; three nephews; and a first cousin.
After cremation, a memorial service with family and close friends will take place in the Fall of 2020.
Gail loved people. Her best artistic efforts went into her work, touching the lives of many, and providing them with a look at the beauty of the world.
She will be greatly missed as a valuable and insightful human being who envisioned the world as it could be by capturing and preserving its beauty for generations.