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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Mollie Fennell Numark

Mollie Fennell Numark, born on Dec. 24, 1931 in Blackpool, Lancashire, a seaside resort on the west coast of England, died peacefully at her home on Shelter Island on May 1, 2024. 

Mollie was predeceased by her beloved husband of 43 years, Marshall H. Numark, her sister Patricia Fennell Powers, whom she adored, and her dear parents Sibyl Emily Davies Fennell and George Walter Fennell.

Coming of age in England during World War II shaped Mollie’s character and life’s path. Dancing became her haven. She studied dance at the Blackpool Theatre Arts School where she trained in the rigorous Royal Academy syllabus and earned lifetime membership in her adult years. 

As a young girl, Mollie danced with The Children’s Ballet and performed in the Blackpool Tower Victorian Ballroom. Mollie began her professional dance career at the famed Tower Circus and appeared in many theaters in the U.K., most notably London’s Adelphi. In 1948 she was among those chosen for a Royal command performance before King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and their young daughters Princess Margaret, and the future Queen Elizabeth II, at London’s Palladium Theatre.

In 1952, Mollie sailed on the French ship Liberte with other British dancers to perform for Lou Walters at his celebrated Latin Quarter Club in Miami. Her career also took her to The Desert Inn in Las Vegas, The St. Louis Club, and eventually to Broadway, where Mollie danced at New York City’s Latin Quarter, once again for Lou Walters.

Mollie married Louis Michael Gallo in 1955. They had two daughters, Lesley Ann Gallo Fox and Dana Michele Gallo, each of whom now resides in Connecticut.

After becoming a U.S. citizen, Mollie owned and operated her own dance studios in New Jersey; the Mollie Gallo School of Dance in Fort Lee; and later, the Mollie Gallo Dance Studio of Ridgefield Park. Both schools championed the Royal Academy Ballet syllabus and employed teachers formally certified by the Imperial Society Teachers of Dance.

In addition to teaching, Mollie choreographed many shows for her own studios as well as for the Fort Lee High School Chorus in Fort Lee, N.J., the Bergen County Players in Oradell, N.J., and the local opera company.

 In 1981, Mollie married Marshall Numark and moved to Shelter Island where they treasured the people they befriended and the life they led. Their retirement years were spent traveling the world, hiking, taking long walks to enjoy the majestic scenery of Shelter Island, and volunteering in their close-knit community.

Mollie lived her entire life sharing her passion for the arts as a teacher and mentor. She spent 25 years volunteering at the Shelter Island Library; the last 16 years as the “Story-Time Lady,” as well as an after-school mentor for the 2R’s4 Fun Reading and Writing Program for young Children.

During the pandemic, Mollie’s Holiday Story Times were recorded for the library’s website and YouTube. Never one to be idle, Mollie studied with the Institute of Children’s Literature and was inspired to author numerous children’s stories and poems. Her legacy lives on and will be long remembered by everyone who knew her.

Mollie leaves behind her two daughters, Lesley Gallo Fox and Dana Gallo, her five grandchildren, Michael Schollard (Taylore), Emily Caldwell (Sean), Jane McMillan (Kevin), Sarah Fox, Rebecca Fox, and three great-grandchildren; and Marshall’s children Deborah Hartman (Sanford), Laura Madere (Glenn), Neil Numark (Lucia), grandchildren Jake Benardot (Lexie), Leah Grossman (Ethan), Dan Madere (Liliana), Dave Madere (Kellyann), Jamie Numark and five great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Mollie’s life will be held at her home at a later date, along with her interment on Shelter Island.

Donations to honor the memory of Mollie Fennell Numark may be made to organizations dear to Mollie’s heart; the Shelter Island Library, P.O. Box 2016, Shelter Island, N.Y. 11964; the Shelter Island Senior Center, 38 North Ferry Road, Shelter Island, N.Y. 11964; or the East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, West Hampton Beach, N.Y. 11978.

For more, you’re invited to visit “A Dancer’s Life: Mollie Fennell Numark,” at johnhemmerarchive.org.

The Shelter Island Funeral Home is serving the family.