William Wallace Gay

Published 11:01 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

William Wallace “Bill” Gay, 91, Captain, USN (Retired), died at home surrounded by his wife, sons, and sister-in-law, on March 6, 2017.

He was preceded in death by: his parents, Ernest and Gertrude Gay of Griggsville Ill.; sister and her husband, Patricia Gay Diemer and Richard Diemer; and his first wife, Joan Cooil.

Survivors: his wife of 47 years, Betty Harris Gay; 2 sons, William H. Gay and wife Darlene Jessup; J. David Kay and wife Staci; 4 grandchildren, Alex, Vivien, Christina and Sophia Kay; 3 nieces and 2 nephews and their families; 2 “adopted godchildren”, Alice Powers and Linda Baigrie; and his wife’s sister, Ann Harris Albin, fondly called his third child.

He was born in Rockport, Ill. at his Grandmother Haines’ home on Sept. 29, 1925. The family later moved to Griggsville, where he graduated from Griggsville Community High School. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) during June 1943 as a member of the Class of 1947. He graduated with honors and was commissioned on June 5, 1946, as part of the last class in the World War II three-year program. After his first deployment aboard the light cruiser USS Pasadena, he was off to flight training in Pensacola and Corpus Christi. He was awarded his wings in August 1950. As a naval aviator, he flew some 20 types of planes, carrier- and shore-based, including fixed wing and jets.  He served in numerous assignments involving the planning, development, and testing of naval and nuclear weapons, but loved flying the most. He served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He retired from the Navy in 1975. He also attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in political science from Boston University while he was attending the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.  Following retirement from the Navy, he became the stay-at-home parent for his and Betty’s two young sons, so that she could continue to pursue her career. He was active in coaching soccer and basketball youth sports. He served as trustee and fundraiser for his sons’ school. He participated in local and regional citizen groups. He also enjoyed taking his sailboat out on the Chesapeake Bay.  He and Betty lived in Silver Spring, Md. from 1969-2003, when they moved to be closer to the grandchildren, first in Richmond, Va., and since 2005, in Advance. During the past 10 years, as age took its toll, he was able to remain living in the comfort of his home due to the attention, care, and tenacious advocacy of his wife, and the support of health care professionals.

The family will receive visitors from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, at Hayworth-Miller Kinderton Chapel, 108 E. Kinderton Way, Advance.

Condolences: www.hayworth-miller.com.

A memorial service will be held on Aug. 7 at 1:30 p.m. in the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis, Md., followed by committal in the Naval Academy Columbarium. All are invited to join the family in fellowship at the Naval Academy Club following the services at the Columbarium.

Memorials: U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, Class of 1947 Museum Fund or the Naval Academy Annual Fund, 291 Wood Road, Beach Hall, Annapolis, MD 21402-1254; or online at www.wsna.com.