OBITUARY: John David Gay
January 22, 1919 – September 7, 2012John David “Dave” Gay, a pioneer of South Lake Tahoe, departed our earth on September 7, 2012. Dave was joyful, courageous, athletic and kind. He was born on January 22, 1919 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to parents Dean L. Gay and Mae Williamson Gay, who brought their family to California in 1925. He was one of four children. His mother, Mae, was a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. He began working at the age of 13, by the side of his brother, Dean Alvin Gay, to support the family during The Great Depression. Attending Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield Junior College, his athletic accomplishments were significant in track & field and football. He then attended The University of The Pacific, playing football under Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Dave was inducted into the Bakersfield College Hall of Fame for the Javelin Throw in 2007.In 1941, he was drafted into the Army where he was Captain of Battery “C” 195th Anti-Aircraft Division. His army career was decorated, and he was present at “The Invasion of Normandy on D-Day”. He arrived in Lake Tahoe in 1946, with his wife Elizabeth “Betty” Morrison Gay and daughter, Deanna. His first business, “Dave Gay Propane”, began in Lakeland Village where his family lived for many years. In the late 1950’s he began working towards the development of Heavenly Valley Ski Area, ultimately building the Heavenly Valley Tram in 1962. He was President of The South Lake Tahoe Rotary and was one of the individuals responsible forth establishment of Barton Memorial Hospital. His wife, Betty, began the Barton Women’s Auxiliary and the “Attic” with other women of the community. Dave was known to drive the ambulance on many occasions, when no one was available. Dave and Betty moved to the Bay Area in 1963, but they continued to spend every summer in the Tahoe Keys. After Betty’s death in 1993, Dave returned to South Lake Tahoe permanently, where he met and married Violet “Vee” Hembrow Gay in 1995, who died in 2011. Dave’s love for the mountains included skiing, boating and golfing. Dave spent his final days in his beloved Lake Tahoe surrounded by his family.David is preceded in death by his brother, Dean Alvin Gay and his sister, Elizabeth Gay Pagni. He is survived by his daughter, Deanna Gay Brinkman of Aspen, CO; sister, Margaret Swall of Carson City NV; nieces and nephews, Leslie, Mike and Cody Swall, Mark Thomas Gay (Yolanda), David Stanley Gay (Catherine), Sara Pagni Robinson (Tom), Gay Pagni Barney (Ray), Lionel Pagni and Barbara Pagni; granddaughter Melissa Brinkman Greis and great-granddaughter Grace Elizabeth Greis of Salt Lake City, UT; his stepdaughter Catherine “Catie” Hembrow, her wife, Beth Ochsner, and their children, Sam and Sarah, of Alameda, CA; brother-in-law, Daryl “Skip” Morrison and his wife, Patty, of Yuba City, CA. The family would like to thank the women of Elder Options, under the guidance of Liz Caldwell, for their devotion and loving care. In addition, they are grateful for the people at Barton Skilled Nursing Facility and the team at Barton Hospice for maintaining his daily care. Dave chose not to have a service, desiring his ashes be spread at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations be made in Dave’s name, to The Barton Foundation, 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Ste. 600, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 or Elder Options, 2197 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.
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