James Orlando Gay was born at Gazette, Missouri on March 7, 1926. The farm birthed and raised seven altogether and Jim was the second. Of the seven, he was the one who most often intervened on the behalf of his siblings and friends against mischievous behavior. He could always be counted on to help when someone needed help, be they family, friend or a needy stranger.
Jim was one who would not stay on the farm, but went out to the big city to seek the life that offered more possibilities and opportunities to experience the world beyond the fields and gravel roads of rural Missouri. Wanting very badly to join the war effort after Pearl Harbor, he tried time and again to enlist, but a childhood infirmity which could not be successfully hidden kept him out of the military. In Kansas City Jim’s Uncle Ray provided an initial living place and family connection as he progressed from bank clerk, jet engine inspector and a long time at the Social Security center.
Moving to south Texas in 1965 to help support his widowed mother, he found his most enjoyable time running his own service station business. Being his own boss suited him well. He worked almost every day of the year and enjoyed all of it as the business grew. He liked to brag on his bookkeeping as well as his attention to customer service at the Texaco station in Alamo, Texas. He employed a number of people, including his little brother who needed extra money for college. Always helpful, one night as he assisted someone on a dark road with car trouble in 1969, he was severely injured by a drunk driver. He survived and despite the injuries, returned to work and was still active into his 90s.
In 2016, an ankle injury made it necessary to leave his home in Edinburg for Austin. Jim lived at a wonderful place, The Plaza at Querencia, where he continued to engage and help new friends and enjoy the very best care until his unexpected death early in the morning of September 19, 2020. Active and gregarious, he was an inspiration and comfort to others. Everyone who knew him expected him to celebrate a century. We all miss him.
Jim is survived by sisters Dorothy Gay Zumpano of Santa Clara, CA; Norma Gay Meacham of Mountain Grove, MO; brothers Ralph W Gay of Riverton, IL and Ray H Gay of Austin TX. He was preceded in death by brother Don A Gay and sister Sybil Gay Howell.
Memorial donations in honor of the life of James are welcomed to be given for the staff of Querencia Resident Scholarship Fund or Team Member Appreciation Fund: Querencia at Barton Creek, 2500 Barton Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 78735
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