Homer Alaska - Obituaries

Story last updated at 4:12 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Isabelle Wrey Gamble


Isabelle Wrey Gamble

Sept. 12, 1923-Dec. 27, 2011

Longtime Homer resident Isabelle "Wrey" Gamble, 88, died peacefully and with her children at her side at South Peninsula Hospital of pneumonia.

She was born in Pryor, Mont., to ranchers James and Anna May Sparks. Her father died from tuberculosis when Wrey was 4 months old. Her mother later remarried and she was raised by her step-father, Leo Hunter, growing up in Ashland and Hardin, Mont. Wrey was always proud of her "wild west" upbringing, riding horses, raising a garden, canning and cooking on a wood stove and the cowboy way of life in Montana.

She met the love of her life, Bob Gamble, who was a navigator in the Air Force and on one of the first planes into Hiroshima after the bombing, on a train between Montana and Seattle, where she was attending school. They were married in 1947.

The two settled in Billings, Mont., where Bob worked in the grocery business. Their daughter Marti Ann was born in 1949, followed by their son Bradley four years later.

In 1969 they pursued their long time vision of coming to Alaska and moved to Anchorage. Their time in Anchorage proved to be just a stepping-stone along their way down the peninsula. They soon ventured into the restaurant business, first owning the Sunrise Inn on Kenai Lake for a few years and then on to Homer, where they purchased the Waterfront Bar and Grill. Homer was smaller then and Wrey knew everyone in town. She took pride in whipping out the best "fish and farm" on the Kenai Peninsula, and she looked forward to visiting with her customers almost as eagerly. She would sing along with Harley Hess, the piano singer at the Waterfront, laughing, telling stories and loving every minute of it.

After selling the Waterfront they purchased the Glacier Drive-In as well as a home in Halibut Cove and just worked summers. They began spending their winters in Kona, Hawaii.

Not quite comfortable with all that leisure time, after selling the Glacier Drive-In, they purchased the Homestead Restaurant. Never afraid of hard work, Wrey went from flipping burgers on the Homer Spit back to fine dining at the Homestead, with Bob tending bar, daughter Marti waitressing, while son Brad built and operated the Fritz Creek general store and post office across the street.

When Bob became ill with cancer they sold the Homestead and concentrated on being comfortable in Hawaii until he passed away in 1992.

After selling the Hawaii place, Wrey joined her daughter and son-in-law Marti and Rick Anderson on their yacht/cruise boat, Kirawan, based in the Homer harbor for a couple of years, taking guests out on fishing and bear watching trips. Wrey garnered many a great tale from intimate boat time spend with guests from different walks of life and foreign countries.

After the sale of the Kirawan, Rick and Marti built Wrey a home close to theirs at the top of Spencer Drive in Homer. After a few years, she moved into the ground floor apartment of the Anderson's new home. Even though she still cooked and loved to make creative dishes, she mostly shared meals and time with daughter Marti and son-in-law Rick Anderson. Just three days before she died, she distributed jars of her trademark salsa and barbeque sauce to friends and family for Christmas.

Wrey was always delightfully vain, loved her jewelry and high heels, and rarely missed her weekly hair appointment. She was horrified after recently having cataract surgery to discover wrinkles she didn't know she had. She treasured her annual trip to Montana and time spent with her beloved niece, Dorothy, the two of them dressing up and spending the day at the slots machines in Bozeman. She was an active participant in life, full of stories and fun, a voracious reader and master of crossword puzzles. She loved having tea parties with her great-granddaughters, sitting on the deck among the flowers and the view, the cats, dogs and grandchildren of the never-a-dull-moment busy Anderson household.

Wrey is survived by her daughter and husband, Marti and Rick Anderson; son Brad Gamble and his wife Barbara; grandson, Kale Anderson, his wife Erikka and their children, Dennis, Alex and Raychel; grandsons Seth, Luke and Saul Gamble; great-grandson Cody Anderson; great-granddaughters Malia and Caitlin; and great grandson, Samuel.

At her request there will be no service. In lieu of flowers please remember her with a smile and a story and give to the charity of your choice. Cards to the family can be mailed to Family of Wrey Gamble, 1193 Bay Ave, Homer, AK 99603.