Tennessee Hiker, 66, Missing on AT in Maine

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Tennessee Hiker, 66, Missing on AT in Maine

Postby Todd » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:12 pm

Missing Brentwood hiker loved outdoors

Husband of area woman last heard from her July 22

Aug. 13, 2013 4:22 AM

The last morning George Largay saw his wife, they bid farewell as she set out for a three-day hike on a treacherous stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

The goodbyes had become routine for the Brentwood couple. Geraldine Largay, known as Gerry, was in the final weeks of a 1,165-mile trek along the northern half of the trail. Ever since she began the journey in April, George Largay had followed her along the way, meeting her at crossroads to replenish her supplies and more.

Hiking the trail was a lifelong dream for the 66-year-old retired nurse. When she set out that Sunday morning for a 32-mile hike, she was a little more than 200 miles away from fulfilling it.

“She loved camping. She loved outdoors,” George Largay said. “The ultimate hike for someone who really loves hiking, as she does, is the Appalachian Trail.”

Gerry Largay carried her cellphone along, and throughout the trip she often sent text messages to her husband to let him know about her progress. Later that day, she messaged him as she reached the peak of one of the first of several mountains on her three-day trek. The next day, Monday, she messaged him again, this time saying she was heading toward her next stop, eight miles away.

George Largay never heard from her again.

When she didn’t arrive at their meeting point Tuesday evening, he figured she must have stopped because of the rain. On Wednesday, he contacted the authorities.

Nearly three weeks have passed, and a massive search involving more than 100 people turned up not a trace of evidence across the more the four square miles near where she was last seen. Last week, George Largay returned to Tennessee to try to figure out what to do next.

“The uncertainty is the toughest part,” he said. “Until they find Gerry, there’s always the unknown, and that’s almost tougher than the known.”

Monday, he spoke with reporters at the Nashville offices of McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations to talk about his experience and his wife’s legacy.

“The more information that we can get out there that might help lead to an ultimate resolution to the whole situation, that’s our main reason for being here today,” he said. “If it helps in the whole process of finding her, that’s great.”

While Largay is not giving up hope, his family is ready to move on. In October, they plan to have a memorial service for Gerry Largay just outside Atlanta, where the family lived for many years.

“I’m trying to do two things. One is to focus on the positives, reminding myself that she was absolutely where she wanted to be, doing absolutely what she wanted to be doing with every fiber of her being,” George Largay said.

Despite the tragic circumstances, Largay said, he wants his wife’s life to serve as an inspiration to others.

“She would want this to help inspire somebody who’s maybe on the sidelines and never thought about doing something like this at age 66, almost 67, to not hold back, just to really go for it,” he said. “She embraced life, and she would want anyone who reads about this to — that this would serve as a reason to do it, or to do something else that they were thinking about, versus to sit on the sidelines and play (it) safe.”

Largay, too, finds inspiration in his wife’s memory and wants to find ways to keep her always in his thoughts.

“She was where she wanted to be,” he said. “That’s easier said than done when you’ve been happily married for 42 years and had visions of it being a lot longer than that. But she was following the dream, and I have to go with that.”

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130 ... d-outdoors
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