A Fitting Memorial for ‘Inchworm”

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I traveled to Georgia this past weekend to visit family and to attend a memorial service for fellow Appalachian Trail hiker Gerry ‘Inchworm’ Largay on Saturday, October 12th. If you have followed my blog you know that I met Inchworm on the trail in Maine and was able to spend time with her and her husband, George. Inchworm went missing on the trail around July 22-23 and no sign of her has been found. The official search was called off in August. It is extremely rare for a missing hiker not to be found within a few days, so Inchworm’s disappearance is still a mystery.

The memorial service was held at Saint Brigid Catholic Church in Johns Creek, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Saint Brigid is a large, beautiful church which was packed with Inchworm’s friends and family. The service was led by Father Mark Beckman of Nashville who has known the Largay family for many years. The service, a Celebration of Life Mass, included remarks from two friends, Inchworm’s two children and her husband, George. The mass included readings, hymns and songs with frequent references to ‘mountains’, reflecting Inchworm’s love of nature. A highlight was the cantor’s rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ from The Sound of Music. I must have heard that song a hundred times but I have never paid such close attention to the lyrics as I did on Saturday. There was not a dry eye in the church.

The common theme in the mass and in the remarks of friends and family was what a wonderful and loving person Inchworm was and how much she will me missed. Despite the deep sadness that everyone feels about Inchworm’s disappearance, there is some comfort in knowing that her life helped and inspired hundreds, maybe thousands, of others and that she was pursuing her life’s dream when she went missing. In addition to her love of family, nature and backpacking, Inchworm was active in her church and in community organizations that helped newcomers to the area and also provided help for those in need. Anyone who met her was lifted up by her enthusiastic and joyful spirit – I know I was.

Father Beckman voiced everyone’s wish that we will someday know what happened to Inchworm but as George said, we need to focus on what comes next in our lives rather than mourning Inchworm’s fate. George and his family obviously have a strong faith that is comforting them in such a tragic situation.

I am pleased that I was able to attend the service and I am inspired by the strong positive influence that Inchworm had on people who knew her. Even though I only knew Inchworm for a very short time, I am confident in saying that she left a very large footprint in our world – maybe I should say it’s a ‘bootprint’.

Farewell Inchworm. I will always remember seeing you for the first time – your smiling face on the west peak of Baldplate Mountain as you sat there enjoying the beautiful panorama of the mountains of Maine.

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About The Man in My Shoes

Since retiring in 2012 I am enjoying the freedom of being able to make my own decisions about how I spend my time and am taking advantage of the opportunities that I have to spend more time with my family, explore, learn, and pursue my dreams and goals. I look forward to writing about these pursuits and hope you enjoy reading about them.
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15 Responses to A Fitting Memorial for ‘Inchworm”

  1. Annette says:

    It is not very often that someone comes into our lives and leaves such a positive and uplifting impression as Inchworm did on you and the many people whose paths she crossed. Your beautiful remembrance brings tears to my eyes, and I am sure to everyone who knew her. Some of my friends and I who followed you on the Appalachian Trail worried when we learned Inchworm was missing and shocked and sad when she was not found. I am so glad that you attended the Celebration of Gerry’s life and shared your experience with us. Gerry will never be forgotten.

  2. MarySue Curran says:

    Thank you for going down to Georgia for the ceremony and so eloquently relaying this to all of us who followed you. Not finding her body is very scary.

  3. Theodora says:

    Thank you Tim for informing us about “Inchworm”. Of course I was following closely your posts and having a big hope that sooner or later they will find her……..It’s a very sad story…….RIP Inchworm!!! Take care Cathy and Tim!

  4. Isaac says:

    Thanks for posting this. It was really nice to be able to experience her memorial vicariously through your description. I wish I could’ve been there, too.

  5. Eric says:

    I echo Isaac: I have never met Inchworm but feel like I have because of you, Tim. I hope you are doing well. And though my school year is going well, I wish you, Craig, Ben and I were still hiking in NH.

  6. Kathy Murphy says:

    It was so incredible meeting you and Steve this weekend. I am blown away by the caring and concern from both the AT hiking community and the residents of Maine. My parents have always told me “You are the company you keep”. The quantity and quality of all those assembled was very high praise indeed, although Gerry would be the last person to seek that kind of recognition. Every person I met was someone I would treasure as a friend. But a saint she was not. When it came to Canasta……Katie bar the door! She did love to win! Many, many nights into the morning waged the ruthless battles. Minnesota will miss you, girlfriend, more than we can ever say.
    With much love,
    One of “Four Fine Friends”

  7. JL says:

    Thanks for following up and letting us know how her family remembered her. So sad.

  8. Jay says:

    Thanks for posting and giving us an update. Wonderful that you were able to attend the service

  9. E C Regan says:

    What a wonderful tribute Tim. It’s so strange what happened to Inchworm, and that there is still no trace of her. I’m wondering how you’ve settled down after your amazing achievement on the AT. It was probably difficult to settle into your former routine but I’m sure you’re working on your next challenge. Cathy, I can’t believe it is 5 years since we were all celebrating 20 years of the IWC in Sofia. I’m going to do my utmost to make it next April to the Silver birthday party – the last one was so good. Hope you’ll be there. Love to you both Eileen xoxoxoxo

    • Eileen, It is indeed strange that Inchworm has not been found and it really bothers me that her disappearance remains unsolved. I am settling into a new routine and all is going well post-AT. I’m training hard for my next challenge which will probably involve hiking or biking next spring or summer. I passed your message on to Cathy. She really wants to go to Sofia in April too and we’re looking at ways to work it into our plans. Tell Tony that I say “hello”. Take care, Tim

  10. Lyndsay Sacre says:

    Thank you for the update Tim, what a sad outcome but its nice that you were able to go and pay your respects and relate back to us. Stay safe.

  11. I wonder is by chance Inchworm may have fallen into a crevas or hole where she may have been injured and not been able to get out on her own? As an RN I look at many different senerios.

    • Keli, That’s certainly possible. Towards the end of the search there were about 200 searchers with dogs and they had narrowed the search area to a 4.1 mile section of the trail. It’s hard to imagine how Inchworm could have disappeared without a trace, even in difficult terrain. I still think about her and hope that when the snow clears in the late spring/early summer there will some new discovery.
      Tim/Walker

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