Remembering Arizona style icon Anne Gale

By Amber Victoria Singer
Published: Friday, December 29, 2023 - 11:41am
Updated: Friday, December 29, 2023 - 11:48am

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As 2023 comes to a close, we're remembering several Arizonans you may never have heard of who passed away this year.

Earlier this year, Arizona lost a style icon, Anne Gale.

Several decades ago, Anne Gale partnered with George Wiseman and an interior design firm was born. Scott Burdick, now the firm’s managing partner, first met Gale when his mother interned for her. In recent years, Gale traveled to Vienna, Portugal and Mexico. She passed away this summer on the porch of her Flagstaff home, a book in her lap. Burdick recalls his memories of Gale.

Anne Gale
Anne Gale
Anne Gale

When I was in high school in the 1980s, my mom went back to school to pursue her design degree and the dean of the school asked her where she wanted to work and, and my mom said: "Absolutely, I would like to work at Wiseman and Gale."

Anne saw in her what Anne called "the flair." And it's something that, that is a big part of who she was, is she, she was monumentally confident in her creative abilities.

Ann was uber creative, sort of a genius-level residential interior designer, creative in everything, creative in writing, creative in fashion, creative in design. She just was generally a creative person.

She grew up in Kansas and moved to Santa Fe in the '60  and didn't stay long in Santa Fe. She married her husband, Tom Gale, in the early '60s. He was an architect. He passed away probably eight years ago. I don't think they loved Santa Fe. I think that it wasn't big enough for them.

And so they moved to Phoenix in the '60s.

She had many different homes in Phoenix, and then she had a historical property in Jerome. It's called the Powder Box Church. And that was a passion project of hers and a family place for them to have weddings and getaways.

The Powder Box Church in Jerome, Arizona
Anne Gale
The Powder Box Church in Jerome, Arizona.

And then they had a house in Flagstaff, and in her retirement years, she would spend the winter months, the nice months, in Phoenix, and then she’d go up to Flagstaff.

When she passed away, it was unexpected. I mean, she was 88 and we knew that she was having some health issues, but we didn't know how dire they were. I was actually with her the week before she died. She was in Flagstaff and she called me up and said, “You gotta come up here for the day and meet this woman.”

And it was a woman that was her balance trainer who she felt had the flair, and she wanted me to meet her. It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I was crazy busy, and you just can't say no to her.

And so she's like: "Give me a date, I'll set it up." And she asked me 10 times before I finally gave her a date and drove up there. And I'm so happy I did and spent a lovely day with her. And this woman named Elizabeth, who has the flair — she's absolutely right.

It's a design saying, but it's also very much Anne Gail. It's somebody who innately knows about interior design. Like, I remember a joke on "Cheers" where Norm joked that he naturally always knew where the ottoman was supposed to go and that's the flair.

Anne always started designing from fabric. So it's very different than most interior designers and she taught our whole team how to do that.

You start playing with fabrics and combinations of fabrics, and until something feels right. And then you add the furniture, then you add the rugs and things like that. And then at the end you accessorize it.

There is an indescribable thing that is when you know a room is done and, and it is as good as it's gonna get and it is different than anything you've ever seen before. And it's fabulous. And she taught us what that is.

And to this day, we look at our work and we say: “What would Anne think?”

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