French chef and author Jacques Pépin is mourning the death of his wife of 54 years who was called his "life-force" in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
Gloria Pépin died peacefully at home in Madison, Connecticut on Saturday with her family, close friends and dog by her side, according to the statement. She was 83 years old.
“We are overcome with grief, but Gloria was a fighter: a strong, resilient, ‘spill-no-tears’ woman. She would no doubt urge us to get on with living our lives and continue to do the work we were meant to do,” the statement said. It did not share a cause of death.
Gloria was born in New York City to a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father. The statement recounted the now "infamous" first meeting between Gloria and her future husband.
"He was a ski instructor at Hunter Mountain in NY. In spite of being an excellent skier on the ski patrol, Gloria signed up for ski lessons to spend time with the handsome Frenchman. She recalled, ‘He was so cute, I thought he was probably gay,’” the statement candidly revealed.
The couple married in 1966 and welcomed their daughter Claudine the next year.
“In all that time, they made sure to sit at the table every night for dinner, enjoying their meal and a glass of wine, intentionally reaffirming their marriage and their love. With Sinatra or Aznavour singing, they would sometimes spontaneously dance after dinner (as long as Jeopardy! was over),” the statement explained.
Gloria was remembered as a great cook who loved bringing friends together for a meal, but "might have loved dogs more than she loved most people."
In 1970, the couple opened La Potagerie a small soup restaurant, in New York City. When Pépin was injured in a car accident in 1974, his wife was there to nurse him back to health. "Every chef, and especially Jacques, will tell you, it impossible to be successful without the support of your spouse," the statement said.
The couple purchased a home in Madison in 1976 and renovated it. They later opened Gloria's French Cafe in the town and ensured the restaurant followed their philosophy to not waste food. The statement explained, "She never left a gram of meat in a steamed lobster or crab shell, and recently sat for hours to extract garlic cloves from tiny heads grown in their garden."
Staying true to her ethos, the family requested that in lieu of flowers people donate to the animal welfare or food insecurity charity of their choice. There won't be a funeral, however the woman who "worshiped sun and warmth" will have, at her request, a big “Boules’ des Dimanche Club” party with all of her friends next June in honor of her birthday.