Gemma Grace Duffy was born on December 29th, 1992. You might have also known her as Gemmy, Gem-gem, Gi-gi, G, Cemma, or Gemmaluchi. She grew up right here in Wayne. She was a graduate of Wayne Elementary School, Radnor Middle School and Radnor High School, class of 2011. Double the one, double the fun. After high school, she moved to Philadelphia to go to Temple University to get a bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management with a minor in business. Philly really was where her heart was; she loved the city and always wanted to move back.
Some of the jobs she held throughout her life included a Sunday School teacher at St. Martin’s Church in Radnor, an Owl Ambassador at Temple University, and working at many different hotels including Caesar’s Resort in Atlantic City, AKA Properties in Philadelphia, the Mayflower in DC, the Gaylord in Maryland, and most recently the Lombardy Hotel In DC. But I think we can all agree, that her favorite job was probably working retail at Justice.
Gemma had the biggest personality. You could drop her in a room full of strangers and in minutes she would walk out with a dozen new friends. Her smile could light up a room and make everyone instantly feel better. She was the life of every party, and was never at a loss for words. She was very competitive, something I’m sure you would know if you have ever played Discovering Ireland with her. Most of all, she was an amazing friend, niece, aunt, granddaughter, daughter… and sister.
Gemma’s favorite place in the world has always been Ireland. We would spend our summers playing with cousins, going on adventures, and always finding the next best place to have a little photo shoot. We climbed mountains, went to castles, visited waterfalls and much much more. This past summer in particular, she really wanted to go to the underground lake on Owey Island, in Donegal. To get to it you had to go on a hike, … then climb down a 50-meter gap and then paddle a little raft in complete darkness. She was convinced we were all gonna do it. She was really upset when we told her that was NOT feasible. And just last week she brought it up again and told me we were gonna do it this summer. Even though don’t plan on ever going down that cave, I will always carry her adventurous spirit with me.
Music was a huge part of Gemma’s life. She played the Trombone and Euphonium. Gemma’s passion for music shaped her life. Some of the groups she played in included the Radnor High School Marching, Concert and honors jazz bands, Tuba Christmas, the Eastern University Concert Band and jazz band, the Temple University Diamond Marching Band, the Temple Night Owl Band and the Alexandria Community Band. She also went back to Temple every year at homecoming to play with the alumni band. Her musical abilities did not end with instruments, everyone who knows her knew that she loved singing Les Mis and Lady Gaga at the top of her lungs. My sister was so talented, and in her years she brought so much joy and music into the lives of the people she loved.
And now, I wanna finish with one of my favorite Gemma stories. One summer when I was about twelve years old Gemma decided she wanted us to watch every season of her favorite show together, Desperate Housewives. Every couple of days, we would walk to the Block Buster in Wayne, and we would rent one season of Desperate Housewives one DVD at a time. This was before Netflix. We sat in Gemma’s bed, in the basement, in the dark, and watched hours and hours of trashy TV that summer. In one of the episodes a character named Karen McKlusky had to spread the ashes of her best friend, and before she did she read a very beautiful poem. Today I also want to share the poem with you as we celebrate my sister’s life.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Thank you very much <3