Gerry Tank is a retired doctor of medicine who practised in Grants Pass for many years and he is still a prominent member of the community. Tank was Garé and Carl's physician and close friend until they passed away. Among his numerous achievements is a profile in Whos Who in the World.
Also, see Tank's article on Carl Barks HERE.
Garé and I first met professionally, I as a gynecologist and she as a patient. What struck me most at the time was her husky, gravelly voice. I suspect it was a remnant of her years of smoking. Because of respiratory problems (emphysema and COPD), she was no longer a smoker, but continued to enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke. She would say this to my wife, Nancy, when we dined and met socially.
no special note of our first meeting, but after our visit, my
nurse, who was a close neighbor of the Barkses, whispered to me
that Garés husband was the creator of Donald Duck stories.
Again, the comment escaped any special attention. I was in a
generation that had been by-passed by Uncle Scrooge and the
Beagle Boys. My generation thrived on Prince Valiant, Superman,
and Captain Marvel and were preoccupied with WWII.
Now enter another generation. My children brought home comic books which included those of Donald Duck and his relatives. One afternoon (and this is already detailed in my notes about Carl Barks (see HERE - Editor's remark)) I picked up a comic book to read in my favorite reading spot. I believe it was on the back cover that I read WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARL BARKS? It was then that a light bulb went off in my head, this must be Garés husband.
By this time I had seen Garé on several occasions. She was very proud of what Carl had accomplished but was disappointed at his lack of recognition in America. You pick up a Donald Duck story and it says its the work of Walt Disney. Even so, Carl was very retiring and disdained any publicity especially in Grants Pass. I understand that for his package deliveries he even had them delivered with a slightly altered name. Sketches about him would appear in the Portland, Oregon, newspapers and in other papers, but not in the Grants Pass Daily Courier. I think he was afraid the publicity locally would interrupt his privacy.
Suffice to say, Garé had left an open invitation to visit and see some of the works of Carl. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I called Garé to make sure it would be appropriate to call on her. What my wife, Nancy, and I thought would be a short visit, turned into quite an extended visit, including an exhibition of his many lithographs that hung on their walls, a Dutch treat evening restaurant meal and a signed edition of Uncle Scrooge McDuck - His Life and Times. Needless to say, Garé and Nancy became close friends leading to many pleasant dinner outings.
Garé took care of the business for Carl. She would get on the phone with Bruce Hamilton for long discussions. Carl at this time was involved in painting and when the lithograph proofs arrived, if the colors were not to her liking, back they went until she finally approved. When we were looking to buy one of his lithographs, Garé got on the phone and called a friend who always reserved several, to ask him to release one for us. Garé was also, I understand, the person who did the balloon lettering for Carls comics, but that was an earlier time.
must have been an optimist to decide at his advanced age to build
a new house, a house designed to cater to Garés needs. It
was a two story house with a long straight stairway to
Carls studio and National Geographic Magazine
library. He also had a chair rail elevator installed for Garé or
others to ride up and down the stairway. He also had an
industrial sized electrical generator installed so that power
could be restored in case of a general power failure since Garé
used an oxygen concentrator powered by electricity. The generator
was set up so that it would automatically start if needed, and we
do have occasional fierce electrical storms that disrupt our
There was a small apartment in the lower story. It was Garés idea that should it come to pass that they were in need of continuous home care, they could hire a couple to live downstairs while they served the needs of the Barkses. Garé got to live in this new home for only a few days.
Their old house was a stones throw from the new residence. It was given to Garés friends who were to become Carls managers, a beneficial arrangement at first, but later on leading to bitter repercussions and parting of their ways. Enough for that episode.
I mentioned that the halls and walls of their house were decorated with Carls lithographs, I think all number 7. The walls were also decorated with a few of Garés paintings, and since I havent mentioned it before, Garé was an artist in her own right. I understand that some have been used as set decorations in Hollywood movies; many were sold to The Leanin Tree Company and converted to greeting cards. If memory serves me correctly, Carl told me that in 1990, the year of the first Gulf War, Leanin Tree, after examining hundreds of their cards, chose one of Garés to forward to our soldiers to remind them of home (see HERE - Editor's remark). I have a box of her greeting cards, all with different prints of her pictures, a gift.
her respiratory difficulties, Garé had to go to our clinic
weekly for injections. This was becoming increasingly difficult
for Carl and Garé, so I suggested that there was no need for
this. It is much easier to transport a needle and syringe and
medication than it is to move the patient. I volunteered to
arrive weekly at their home, administer the injection with no
fees involved. I received, however, at Garés request,
Carls copy of Always Another Rainbow. I
think that is great compensation.
It was not long after that, that Garé died. I think Carl was unlucky in love with his first two marriages, but I know he was deeply attached to Garé. She was buried in Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Grants Pass and rests next to The Good Artist.
This contribution was written specially for this website. © Gerry Tank
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