Noted author, humanitarian, Gail Gutradt, dies



Bar Harbor author Gail Gutradt, center, with children at the Cambodian orphanage she helped support with the proceeds of her book "In a Rocket Made of Ice." FILE PHOTO

Bar Harbor author Gail Gutradt, center, with children at the Cambodian orphanage she helped support with the proceeds of her book “In a Rocket Made of Ice.”
FILE PHOTO

BAR HARBOR — Gail Gutradt, author, businesswoman and humanitarian passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer.

Her simple obituary reads “Gail Lynn Gutradt died at Mount Desert Island Hospital on February 22, 2016, with loved ones by her side. She was an artist, an entrepreneur, a photographer, an author, and a great lover of life. She will be well and truly missed. A celebration of her life will be held in the Spring. Arrangements by Direct Cremation of Maine.”

Gutradt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and wrote much of her critically-acclaimed book “In a Rocket Made of Ice” while on chemotherapy. Her illness, she believed, brought her even closer to the children she was writing about.

The book, published by Knopf, gathers the stories of children from the Wat Opot Children’s Community in Cambodia whose lives have been shattered by HIV/AIDS. In this community, the children are loved, educated and raised to live full lives in the outside world.

Gutradt was at a crossroads in her life when she learned of Wat Opot, which is nestled in Cambodia’s verdant rice paddies. It once was a haunted scrubland, but is now a place of healing and respite for children orphaned by AIDS. Gutradt called it “a workshop for souls” that enriches the lives of everyone involved, including hers.

She volunteered extensively at the orphanage during the past decade. All proceeds from the sale of her book went to support the institution.

Gutradt’s stories, articles and poems have appeared in the Japan-based “Kyoto Journal” as well as in the “Utne Reader” and “Ashe Journal.” Her first “Kyoto Journal” article, “The Things We’ve Gone Through Together,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Years ago she was co-owner of several seasonal gift shops in downtown Bar Harbor, including Boston Baked Beads, The Dancing Deer and The Blue Heron Shop.

She is survived by her brother, photographer Barry Gutradt of Bar Harbor.

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