Robert Kenneth Gay, long time resident of Marion, quietly and peacefully slipped the bonds of his earthly world and made his journey to heaven on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm at Fifth Season Residential.
There, he reunites with his loving mother and father, his wife, his two sisters and one brother and many close friends that had preceded him in death.
Mr. Gay’s time in this world was long and his blessings were great; he was 100 years 3 months old. His passing was comforted by the presence of his children and grandchildren that had come to his side to reaffirm their love and appreciation for their Dad and Grandpa. While saddened that his physical presence is no longer and there will be no new experiences, they rejoice in the celebration of his fruitful and sweet life, and will be comforted by the memory of the many happy and loving experiences he provided them.
Mr. Gay was born on August 15, 1916, near Stonefort to Robert T. and Eulah (Choate) Gay. He was the second of four children. He and the former Juanita Simmons of New Burnside were united in marriage on May 24, 1939, together they shared over 65 years of marriage until her death on July 23, 2004.
He was recruited from Stonefort High School to play basketball his senior year at Carrier Mills, received a Specialist Degree from SIU-Carbondale, began his teaching career at Pleasant Valley School near Stonefort, then advanced his career as a teacher/principal at LeMasters School, Marion; teacher, coach and assistant principal at Marion Jr. High, principal of Lincoln Elementary, Marion, administrative assistant and responsible for writing the federal title grants, and retired in 1977 as assistant Superintendent of the Marion Unit #2 Schools. His desire for public education extended beyond the public school system by service on the Marion Carnegie Library Board. His personal life was interrupted in 1943-1945 when he was drafted into the Army during WWII where he served in the postal division servicing over 30,000 troops as they moved all over the European Theatre. In recent years as more attention has been given to WWII Vets, he appreciated the gratitude of many. A highlight of his life was to go on the Honor Flight to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC at the age of 95. He has shared many of his war time experiences with family and friends.
He was a Christian for 82 years during which time he faithfully served his home church, Walnut Grove Baptist Church, near New Burnside, as a Sunday School teacher, superintendent, head deacon, song leader and oldest member. He also served for several years on the ABCM Board at SIU-Carbondale. He was a past member of the VFW and American Legion.
He was interested and well-informed in national affairs and current events, politically involved and would be pleased to be remembered as a “good Republican”. He lives on through the memories of his children, grandchildren and many friends and will not be forgotten. There is much cause to celebrate his life.
Robert Gay’s life on earth is now over; but he lived it well and made a positive impact on the many lives he touched.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert T. and Eulah Gay, his wife, Juanita; sisters Alene Trammell Fox and Mildred Gay and his brother, Lindsey Gay.
Mr. Gay is survived by his sons, Gary (Karen) Gay of Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Keith (Dianne) Gay of Marion; grandson, Dax (Sheila) Gay of Johnson City, Tennessee; granddaughters, Leslie (Jimmy) Shill of Marion and Cassie (Derek) Oetjen of Carterville, step-granddaughters; Becca Clark and Jennifer Adams of Marion, step-grandson Kyle (Jerrica) Adams of Laramie, Wyoming as well as 10 great grandchildren.
Family and friends may gather on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 from 5 – 8 pm at Mitchell-Hughes Funeral Home in Marion and from 12 pm until the time of service at the church on Thursday. Funeral services will be Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 1 pm at Walnut Grove Baptist Church on Route 45 north of New Burnside with Dr. Ron Ferguson . Interment will be in Drake Cemetery, near Creal Springs with military rites presented by members of the Marion VFW Post #1301, American Legion Post #147 and National Guard Detail Unit.
For those who prefer memorials may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois. Envelopes will be available and accepted at Mitchell-Hughes Funeral Home, 800 North Market Street, Marion, Illinois 62959.