Geraldine Grace Cannon
Geraldine Grace Cannon (Gentle), 84, of Holmes Beach, died Dec. 17.
She was born Dec. 11, 1934, in Chicago, the only child of Robert and Louise Gentle.
She was graduate of Chicago’s University of St. Francis Leach College of Nursing and dedicated her life to helping others. Her passions included the church, travel, gardening and animals.
She had many friends and was a visible volunteer for island events too numerous to list, but including the Roser Thrift Store, Wildlife Inc., ushering at concerts and plays, and portraying Annie Silver in island celebrations.
Few people realize that she was a major, though largely unsung figure in U.S. jurisprudence during her extensive career in nursing. Her career began with graduation from nursing school, including work as a surgical nurse and culminating in a 20-year career as a visiting community nurse in South Chicago.
All this was done while raising her five children and two grandchildren.
An early “mommy-track” professional, her ultimate career goal was to become a doctor. When her children were older, she returned to college and took the MCATS, performing well enough to apply to the prestigious University of Chicago Medical School at age of 39. Her application was rejected.
Research showed that she had performed well above many male counterparts that were accepted that year, but there was no federal protection against age discrimination.
However, her attorney-husband John Cannon understood that her denial had a disparate impact on women who wanted to attend medical school and raise a family, so he filed suit on his wife’s behalf under Title IX on the basis of sex discrimination. The case of Geraldine Cannon v. The University of Chicago School of Medicine advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1979, the court decided the narrow issue whether or not Geraldine Cannon had the right as an individual to sue under Title IX. She won.
Her win did not result in the realization of her personal goals, as she was later denied admission once again based on her age—However, Geraldine Cannon’s legal win paved the way for all subsequent individual causes under Title IX.
She didn’t realize the importance of the case until in April, when she was awarded the Legacy Award by SurvJustice in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit devoted to providing legal support to Campus Victims of Sexual Assault.
A gathering of more than 200 people, largely attorneys and national women’s rights advocates, gave her and John Cannon, in absentia, a standing ovation. In her acceptance speech, she gave credit to her husband, who had worked so hard on her behalf and all who were under represented in the law.
The Cannons did not realize in the late 1970s that the case would become a landmark victory in the cause of women’s rights and of critical importance in the 21st century. That April night, national figures met and congratulated Geri Cannon for her efforts. The highest compliment came from an attorney who, surveyed the packed conference hall and stated that everyone in that room had a job because of her. Gracious, gentle Geri Cannon was a roaring legal cannon.
Services will be held at St Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22. Lunch will be served following services.
Memorial donations may be made to Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center, 2207 Ave. B, Bradenton Beach FL 34217.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, John M. Cannon, and her daughter Jeanne L. Lipsky. She was fortunate enough to find love again in her partner of 25 years, Dale Romesburg, moving from Chicago to Homes Beach in 1998. She was blessed with five children John, Hugh, Mary Gold, Joseph and Jeanne, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Ethan Struber, 29, of Holmes Beach, died Nov. 10.
He worked at Fun and More Rentals in Holmes Beach.
He was a kind, loving, funny, caring person and his family misses him dearly.
His parents ask that people pay respects and say goodbye on his Facebook page.
He is survived by his parents, Sandy and Dave Struber of Bradenton and formerly of Holmes Beach.