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Melinda Ellen Penney Gamot

Oct 23, 2021, 10:56 AM by Provided by the Gamot Family
Long time member Melinda Ellen Penney Gamot passed away 10/15/21

MELINDA ELLEN PENNEY GAMOT charged into this world on Monday, February 22, 1954, at Good Samaritan Hospital, West Palm Beach, Florida, to spend her formative years with her father, Raymond “Ray” Emberly Penney, and mother, Marion “Mel” Ellen Penney (nee: Lippold). On Friday, October 15, 2021, after a whirlwind 67 years, 7 months, and 23 days, Melinda departed from her beloved 2 bar G Ranch, in Okeechobee, Florida, to catch up with the love of her life, Albert, who had departed from the same terminal on February 3, 2020, and continue their rollicking adventures to places yet uncharted by those of us they left behind.

Melinda grew up with her younger brother, Bill, on Thelma Road in unincorporated West Palm Beach, Florida, a working-class neighborhood. She attended Palm Springs Elementary School, Jefferson Davis Junior High School, John I. Leonard High School, then on to Palm Beach Junior College. Melinda excelled academically and socially, then set off to change the world. She attended the only institute of higher learning she believed capable of challenging her, the University of Florida, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with high honors, in 1975. Continuing forward in her quest, Melinda received her Juris Doctor, with honors, from the Levin School of Law at the University of Florida, in 1978, and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year.

Melinda returned to West Palm Beach to begin her career, joining the esteemed law firm, Cone, Wagner, et al, where she was the second of two female lawyers in the firm. The other female lawyer, none other than Rosemary Barkett, first female Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, and later a Justice on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Al Cone recognized the requisite qualities a person needed to be a master legal practitioner. He knew Melinda possessed those qualities. He took her under his wing, schooling her in the fine art of civil litigation. Melinda referred to Al Cone as, “the guy closest to true genius as I will ever meet.” As with all other aspects of her life, she was determined to exceed even her own expectations.

In 1981 something unexpected and extraordinary had occurred in Melinda’s life. Unknown to us all, in April 2020, Melinda penned a brief biography titled Chapter Two – Falling in Love. For the sake of brevity and Melinda’s “get to the point” mantra, here are the highlights:

“I was in my third-year practicing law with a nationally respected trial law firm. I thought I was rich, making a whopping $15,000 a year, plus a new car. At that time in my life, the last thing I was wanting was a committed relationship. I had the proverbial world by the tail, living life to its fullest.

Then out of nowhere, I get a call from this guy. Albert Gamot. We met a few years earlier, when one of my senior partners left the firm to start a new firm with Albert. We actually went out once, way back then. I thought he was nice. Drove an SL 450 Mercedes, which was way cool. But if I wasn’t ready for a relationship now, I certainly wasn’t a few years prior. So out of the blue, he calls now. Would I be interested in going out?

He must have caught me off guard. My usual defense mechanisms were off. I said, “yes.” The rest is history.

I do remember the date: February 28, 1981. I do remember thinking this was the guy I wanted to keep in my life. We ended up talking for hours in my small two-bedroom rental apartment while my dog Harold and cat Clarence checked him out. They liked him. That was enough for me.

We talked on the phone the next few days, every day. I think we met for drinks and maybe dinner. Then, he invited me to come to his home the following Saturday to meet his family.

I guess he was as nervous as I was. The afternoon of this special Saturday date he wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended someone. He wasn’t hurt, but certainly shook up. I came to learn later details were not his strong suit. He was brilliant in so many ways but paying attention to drivers in front of him was just something he hadn’t really mastered.”

Melinda continues writing about Albert, meeting his family, integrating the people and pets into a cohesive unit, or as she writes, “one crazy, wonderful extended blended family”. She closes the bio with the following comment, “I told you I am the luckiest person in the world.”

Albert and Melinda married on November 15, 1981, officiated by then Circuit Judge Thomas E. Sholts.

Melinda and Albert both possessed a love and affinity for animals - dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, cows, and horses. Melinda, however, connected with horses on a higher level. Growing up, she was an active 4H kid, showing her prized Brown Swiss cows at the South Florida Fair, and participating in many events throughout Florida. When Melinda found her way onto a horse’s back at a very young age, her competitive spirit ignited. Melinda found her Zen on horseback - her state of calm attentiveness where her actions were guided by intuition rather than by some conscious effort.

In April 1999, Albert and Melinda took a giant leap toward bringing a dream to fruition – purchasing the first of four parcels of land on which to build their ranch, the 2 Bar G. Over the past twenty-two years, with some professional assistance, they created an 800+ acre working ranch paradise. They constructed a home, barns, and stables, worked cows, built, and mended fences, mowed pastures, and cleared property. They worked hard, got dirty, and loved every minute of it. In April 2017 they took another giant leap, selling their home on the Intracoastal in Jupiter and residing full time in Okeechobee.

Melinda was the consummate horsewoman. If there was a sport involving a horse, chances are good Melinda give it a try. She was a master in Western and English. Competed in barrel racing and Eventing. She took great pride in her accomplishment of starting in the local show circuit, moving to regional (South Florida), to state (Florida State 4-H Horse Champion) to the national level, winning the National Quarter Horse Queen Championship in her late teens. She remained in the Quarter Horse arena well into adulthood, becoming a judge at both the national and international levels. Melinda truly found her niche when she crossed paths with the western- style equestrian competition known as Cutting, which became her passion. She loved the events, but she loved the people she came to know even more. She was a steadfast competitor and award-winning rider.

Albert and Melinda traveled the world, checking off their bucket list. They were eclectic travelers: from first-class trips to many destinations in Europe and Asia, with equally first-class dining, accommodations, and entertainment, to week-long horseback adventures in the Wyoming wilderness and other states, to the Australian Outback, to an African safari sleeping under a mosquito net. Albert and Melinda made friends and absorbed the positive energy everywhere they went – except maybe when they were robbed in Paris and Italy!

Melinda and Albert were avid sports fans. It really didn’t matter which sports. However, when it came to college football there were really only two teams and one conference. Ole Miss alum, Albert, loved his Rebels - he bled blue and red. UF alum, Melinda, loved her Gators – she bled orange and blue. It’s the SEC! Sure, they watched a lot of other teams, but they always rooted for the Florida teams playing out-of-state teams, except of course if Ole Miss was playing any Florida team other than the Gators. Oh, and the Kentucky Derby! The best family memories were those made being together in the Grove and at a game at Ole Miss, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the Gators, even if you leave with some minor hearing loss, and around the TV in their home.

Although she had slowed her law practice down somewhat, Melinda was still a practicing lawyer and mediator at the time of her passing. She loved being a lawyer and it showed. She played by the rules because the rule of law matters. She pushed the envelope when and where the enveloped needed a good shove. Melinda worked hard to teach and mentor lawyers of all levels and experience. She pushed female lawyers to seek their unlimited potential. Something she understood and never allowed it to slow her down.

Judges, magistrates, and other lawyers knew they needed to be on their toes when Melinda walked into the courtroom or found her name signed at the bottom of a letter or pleading. While not all her colleagues may have been in her cheering section, they all knew Melinda was a no- nonsense, straight shooter – and she was one hell of a shot.

After her passing, her brother Bill and son-in-law Mark were conversing about Melinda’s career, the impact she made in the legal community, and how she will be remembered by judges, magistrates, and her fellow attorneys. The answer was simple, “Revered and Feared”.

Some of Melinda’s many professional accomplishments:

Admissions: U.S. Supreme Court (2007); U.S. District Court; Southern District of Florida (1984); and Colorado Bar(1989)

Fellowships & Memberships: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; Susan Greenberg Family Law American Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches

Certifications: Florida Bar, Board Certified Civil Trial; Board Certified Marital and Family Law; National Board of trial Advocacy

Bar Activities: Florida Bar Family Law Section; Executive Council; Certification Committee; Certification Review Seminar, Co-Chair; Bounds of Advocacy Committee, Co-Chair; Ad Hoc Finance Committee; Family Law Legislation Committee and Continuing Legal Education Committee; Marital and Family Law Certification Committee, Fifteenth Circuit Grievance Committee; Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society Trustee & Board of Directors

Palm Beach County Bar Association: Long Range Planning Committee; Family Law Committee; Robing Ceremonies Committee; Civil Court Advisory Committee; Bench Bar Committee

Numerous speaking events and publications

Numerous awards and recognitions, including the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar’s Visionary Award for outstanding service and invaluable contributions to the advancement of Family Law in Florida, and her vision and drive to push for, and implement change.

In 2009 Melinda was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma – breast cancer. From the day of that diagnosis, Melinda battled the beast. PET scans, radiation, chemotherapy, cancer fighting drugs, homeopathic treatments. Akin to a life-or-death football game, she gained a few yards, lost a few yards. The beast periodically took its time outs, giving Melinda a much-needed reprieve. But the beast kept coming back. Then came half-time. Things were calm for a while. Looked like she would be successful in the second half. She returned to the field ready for the fight. But during half-time, the beast studied the moves on the field during the first half. It left the locker room and onto the field with a vengeance. The battle raged on, month after month. More PET scans, radiation, chemotherapy, cancer fighting drugs, homeopathic treatments, and experimental drugs. The gains on the field were fewer and farther between. She fought harder, refusing to give up. She heard Albert calling from the sidelines, telling her it was OK to call it quits. She squared off with the beast one last time and stared squarely and intently into its black lifeless eyes. She turned and walked off the field to join Albert.

Melinda was predeceased by her parents Ray and Mel Penney, and beloved husband, Albert J. Gamot, Jr.

Those of us left behind to cherish so many memories of our times with Melinda are stepdaughters: Nicole Gamot (Mark Murray), and Colette Gamot; brother: William “Bill” Penney (Karen). She was “Mimi” to her grandchildren: Paige Murray, Ethan Murray, Albert Jean Gamot- Reed, Gertrude Gamot-Reed; and “Auntie Id” to her Nieces: Lindsay Penney Burcham (Jason); and Sammie Penney Kalain (Kody); and Nephew, Carl Penney. Also grieving are her relatives from the Penney, Lippold, and Gamot families; adopted nephew, Jason Feltz (Christina); Lee, Holly, and Sydney Francois, and Dr. Kevin Inwood, Sarah Poole, and Rielly.

A very special recognition to Mr. Enrique Badilla. His knowledge, skill, honesty, integrity, and spirit helped transform the Two Bar G Ranch into Albert and Melinda’s dream of Heaven on Earth. We unanimously concur!

Another very special recognition to Mr. Cab Butts for all his hard work and determination bringing the 2 Bar G Ranch to a viable and respectable cattle operation. They couldn’t have done it without you.

A very special thank you to Dr. Turgeon, Chaplain John Thybault, all the nurses, and staff at VITAS Hospice Care, Port St. Lucie, Florida. You did so much to ease Melinda’s suffering through her transition

Melinda will be sorely missed by many, and we apologize if you were not mentioned. So, from Melinda to her fellow lawyers, “Just because your name’s not listed in my Obituary, it doesn’t mean you were actually forgotten. You’re probably just on the other list!”

Melinda’s energy was boundless, and she never stopped. Whenever we suggested she should slow down and take a break, her standard response was, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” So, wherever she is, we doubt she’s sleeping, and as it is likely she is with Albert, they may be driving around in the middle of the night checking convenience stores so Albert can satisfy his craving for a hot dog!

The greatest gift you could give to Melinda’s family is for you to share you stories about her. A box will be present at the celebration for you to drop us a note with your story. Those unable to attend, please e-mail them to us

Our family invites those who would like to join us in celebrating her amazing life will take place on Sunday, October 24, 2021, beginning at 4:00 pm, at the Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place, 122 Soundings Avenue, Jupiter, Florida 33477. Attire is resort casual.

Those unable to attend in-person, please join us by Zoom: or Facebook Live:

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Melinda’s name to the following:

Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, 423 Fern Street, Suite 200, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401

University of Florida Levin College of Law, 309 Village Drive, PO Box 117620, Gainesville, Florida 32611

Palm Beach County Extension 4-H, 559 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, Florida 33415 

If you wish to send flowers, please contact Creative Flowers - 561-277-9102


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