GR distinguished citizen named
April 25, 2019
A Green River woman who has volunteered a half-century of her time towards helping the community was named Green River's 2019 Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
During the Green River Chamber of Commerce's April luncheon, Gayle Bacila received the honor.
Bacila, who thought she was at the luncheon to learn more about the chamber's flag committee she volunteered for, was surprised when her named was called for such a prestigious award.
"I was floored," Bacila said. "I thought I was just going to a Lunch and Learn. They surprised me with that."
Bacila soon discovered she had been nominated by Cheryl Jensen. She had gathered information about Bacila from her husband, Nick Bacila and her children. Jensen had written a nomination letter encouraging the committee to select Bacila as the next distinguished citizen.
"I have known and admired Gayle for 19 years," Jensen's letter stated. "This lady has a true love for our Green River community and all the folks that reside here."
"I was involved even as a child," Bacila said.
Bacila said she remembers how active she was in 4-H and the Girl Scouts when she was younger.
Bacila was born and raised in Green River and only moved away for a short time. In 1972, Bacila married Thomas Brewer and they had two children Eva and Edmin. He died in 1991. Bacila said her husband suffered from the effects of Agent Orange he was subjected to in the Vietnam War.
While he was dying, Tom encouraged Bacila to obtain a degree in whatever she wanted from Western Wyoming Community College so she would be able to support the family after he died. She took an aptitude test and it showed she would be good at skilled technology, nursing, a librarian or travel agent. Bacila pursued and obtained an Industrial Mechanics degree. Bacila said it was the degree she was interested in and could get the most grants to obtain. Even though Tom was in and out of the hospital 17 times while she worked on her degree, Bacila graduated on time. Tom didn't live to see his wife graduate. He died when Bacila still had one semester left of college.
Bacila continued to pursue her degree and found a part-time job at Chevron. She also volunteered at the Castle Rock Rehabilitation Center until she received a part-time activities job with them.
It was through this volunteer work that Bacila would choose her next career path.
"Gayle always had the need to comfort and support the less fortunate so once again she furthered her education and entered into the demanding profession of a CNA," Jensen's letter states.
Bacila said she worked to obtain her CNA and once she obtained it, Castle Rock Hospital District reimbursed her for her college fees and she started working the graveyard shift at The Villa, where she remained for 21 years.
"So, I've been doing that ever since," Bacila said.
During this time, Bacila would often have part-time, day-time jobs, including working at the Krazy Moose and Rocky Mountain Health Care.
"I'm very adaptable," she said. "As long as I can get some sleep in there sometime I'm fine."
When The Villa closed, Bacila found employment at Hospice and Home Health Aide, which is where she still works now.
When she's not busy at that job, she helps the Hampton Inn out with special events, such as graduations and weddings.
Her volunteer work
While Bacila excelled at her jobs, she also continued to volunteer for various organizations.
She was involved in the YWCA Y-Teen program as a youth leader. She accompanied 12 teens and one other leader to Clairmont, Calif., for a Drug Free Youth Conference.
Bacila also was involved in the D.A.R.E program. She ensured the youth knew about the hazards of drug use and safe sanctuaries in the event of dangerous situations.
She was also involved in the Green River Lion's Club and served as the club's president for four years. Bacila said she needed to ask if she could be a member of the Lions' Club because there were no female members.
She wrote a letter requesting the club allow her to join and included a membership fee. Her request was granted and in less than four months were was nominated and unanimously approved to be the president of that club. She was the first female president for that group.
Bacila has also served as a Golden Hour Senior Center board member for 10 years and was a member of the VFW Auxiliary for six years, an Eagles member for 26 years, an American Legion Auxiliary member for three years and a Green River Chamber of Commerce member for two years.
Bacila was also involved in her children's church youth groups and any other groups they were involved in.