Cover photo for Bill Gay's Obituary
Bill Gay Profile Photo
1919 Bill 2017

Bill Gay

September 26, 1919 — March 2, 2017

William Henry Gay was born in Florence, Kansas September 26, 1919 to Agnes and Berry Gay. He and his younger sister, Amanda Marie were raised in Newton Kansas and had extended family in the Mennonite community of Goessel, a town just north of Newton.
Agnes was widowed when Bill was just 3 yrs of age but that didn't stop him from growing into a wonderful father and a man's man who loved the outdoors, sports and other rugged pursuits.
After high school graduation he attended Bethel College for one year then attended Pittsburg State Teachers College where he met the love of his life Elma Jean McKinney in an English Literature class. She knew he needed help with his studies so he accepted and they were married June 22nd, 1941. Then-union came just 6 months before Pearl Harbor.
At the time, Bill was a welder at a plant in Wichita which became Boeing Air Craft; he was an assistant foreman when they turned out the first B-29. His service time was with the Army at different locations in Kansas and Colorado. He was a Corporal, a Carbine Sharpshooter and a Surgical Technician. He was shipped overseas with the same National Guard Unit that he had trained with in Kansas so he was really glad to be reunited with boys from his hometown when they headed to war.
He spent V.E. Day on a troop ship and after serving sue months overseas he was shipped back to the U.S. with orders to report to the Pacific arena conflict. However, he spent V.J. Day with Jean at her parents' home in Fredonia, Kansas. He was always grateful to have been in the service of his country but that his tasks kept him from the terrible sites of active battles.
Bill decided to finish his education and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Denver University and his Masters Degree in Industrial Arts from Kansas State University. After teaching 3 years in Wichita, he and Jean moved to Denver where Bill taught Graphic Arts at Kepner Jr. High School for 30 years. His class won la Place at the State Fair 8 years in a row, even over High School students. When they decided to divide the competition into High School and Jr. High, his students won lst Place for 18 more years.
Bill and Jean adopted 3 children. First, Curtis, then 3 years later, Rick and after 4 more years, Kendra. The family enjoyed fishing, hiking and camping. When it became clear that those activities kept Jean in the camp kitchen, they decided to take up rock collecting. They tried antique bottle collecting too but always found Rock Hounds to be friendlier and more sharing. The family enjoyed ice skating and skiing in the mountains west of Denver. As teachers the family enjoyed 3 months of the year exploring the mountains and desert areas of the western US.
Bill and Jean joined the Methodist Church when living in Wichita and transferred their membership to Bethany United Methodist Church in Denver where Bill was baptized on March 3"11956. Bill helped with the building project and was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and taught the adult Sunday School class. Jean was the organist and choir director for 25 years. Bill never missed a day without devotions at the breakfast table, a month without a tithe or a camping trip that didn't include finding the closest church where the children could keep up with perfect attendance. He truly loved the Lord.
Bill also enjoyed being an Indian Guides member with his sons Rick and Curt as well as his role as Scout Master of the Boy Scouts in Lakewood, Colorado. Kendra kept her parents busy sitting in the stands cheering for her during her many years of softball and track. Bill and Jean rarely missed an activity their children were involved in, whether it was a school play, a madrigal choir group, a sporting event or their kids participation in the Golden Youth Symphony Orchestra where Curt played the French Horn, Rick the percussion and Kendra the violin.
As you may all know, the Gays loved rocks.... the more the merrier. Rocks became their life. In fact, they spent many wonderful years, collecting rocks, polishing rocks, making jewelry and competing in rock shows. They were selected winners of the "Education Through Sharing Award" by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies at a National Convention and were honored locally at the Rocky Mountain Federation Gem and Mineral Show. The year before Bill retired he was an exchange teacher to Australia. They exchanged jobs, houses and even cars. Bill and Jean lived in Adelaide for 1 year and explored their adopted continent on their free time....of course collecting rock specimens along the way.
Bill and Jean moved to Roswell where Jean's 2 sisters had relocated in retirement. Since Roswell had such a great climate they decided to move after Kendra was married. That Thanksgiving they woke up to 2 inches of snow!
As members of the Chaparral Rock Hound club, they taught lapidary class for the enrichment programs in the Roswell school district. They were also involved in the local RS VP group and loved their time learning new skills in lapidary and jewelry making. No one loved the pursuits of rock collecting and the friends they had in the club more than Bill. He and Jean returned to Australia and spent a month in New Zealand visiting friends and rock hounds they had met before. But their fondest times were spent in the adventure of collecting the next pretty rock and bringing it home to find it's inner beauty.
After toughing it out with declining health and missing his wife of 74 years. Bill joined his loved ones and his Savior, peacefully and joyously with his children at his side.
Bill was preceded in death by his father, mother and sister and by his loving wife Jean. He is survived by his children Curtis Gay of Denver, Rick and Dianne Gay of Trenton, Texas and Kendra and Gary Rhoades of Burlington, Colorado. Grand children Joshua Ray and Heather Roots, Karah Reygers and husband Joseph, Kolby Melia and husband Daniel.
Great Grand children Bailee, Aaron, Rachel, Donovyn, Dyanna, Benton, Abby, Baylor, Jacoby and Bowen. He will be missed by 2 nieces, a nephew and many, many friends.



Trinity United Methodist Church
1413 South Union
Roswell, NM  88203
Monday, March 6, 2017
10:00 am


General Douglas McBride Veterans Cemetery
3101 S. Main
Roswell, NM  88203
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