Gay was born on May 31, 1943 in Prince George, to parents Bill and Winifred Rees. Gay was the middle child of three – older sister Joy and younger sister Della. In 1951 Winifred passed away leaving Bill to raise his three girls. When Gay was 17 her father passed away, which meant the girls were on their own. Gay met and married the love of her life, Terry, in November 1964, and shortly after they completed their family with the birth of their two children, Ronda and Dana. In 1976 the family moved to Burns Lake as Terry had been offered the Administrator position in the Burns Lake Hospital. After settling in, Gay began working at Northern Drugs and remained working there until it closed in 2002. Gay became involved with almost every volunteer organization that Burns Lake had to offer. The Hospital Auxiliary, the Figure Skating Club, Terry Fox Run, Chamber of Commerce, The Big Bike Ride, Relay for Life, the Sports Centre Association, Citizens on Patrol, the Christmas Hamper Program, the Feeling at Home Project, and the Lakes District Allocation for the Northern Medical Programs Trust, are just a few of the organizations that Gay was involved with. Her passion was the Hospital Auxiliary, which she gave over 35 years of service. During that time she spearheaded the committee that raised over $100,000 for the Pines Care Home prior to it’s opening, as well as raising a substantial amount of money for the Rambler and Tweedsmuir House a few years later. Because of Gay’s outstanding volunteer efforts, she received the Governor General’s Award in 1993, as well as the Citizen of the Year in 1998. In addition to all this, Gay was the unofficial welcoming committee for new medical staff for Burns Lake. It was her mission to ensure that when each new doctor arrived, they had a place to live which included finding furniture, making sure the lawn was mowed, the windows were washed, and there was food in the fridge…..she thought of everything! In 1990 Gay was on her own as she and Terry had separated. She decided a new chapter in her life was in order, so she sold her house and went into business with a friend. They purchased a home which they lived in and ran a very successful bed and breakfast. After a few years, they parted ways and Gay continued to run the business on her own. In 2002, Gay underwent surgery for lung cancer and remained in remission as a cancer survivor. In 2010 Gay’s health had declined and she was no longer able to work, and her ability to be an active volunteer was difficult. It was very hard for her to sit around and not feel productive. In the recent months Gay’s health had weakened and on April 20/11 she passed away peacefully in the Burns Lake hospital surrounded by her family and many friends. Gay will be greatly missed by her children Ronda (Doug) and Dana (Russell), grandchildren, Derek, Michael, Jarrett, and Natalie, sister Della (Darold), nieces and nephews, as well as her many friends. Gay was a pillar of the community and leaves a legacy of commitment to improving Burns Lake through fundraising efforts. That legacy will be a challenge to match.
Gay’s memorial service was held on May 14th and her remains will be buried in the Prince George cemetery later this summer.
Donations can be made to the Burns Lake and District Health Care Auxiliary. Money raised will go towards an item for the hospital to be named in Gay’s memory.