ForeverMissed
Flight from Late in the Day by Gay Hadley
Welcome to the memorial site for Gay B Hadley. Feel free to read the memories of her children and grandchildren under the Life section above or leave your own memories in the Stories section. Also feel free to leave a note below or send cards to Susan Hadley at 94 W Riverglen Dr, Columbus, OH 43085.

Obituary:

Gay Hadley, age 90, passed away peacefully on May 18, 2020, amidst the thoughts and prayers of people who loved her: family, friends, and staff and fellow residents at Westminster Thurber.

She was preceded in death by her mother and her brother. She is survived by her daughter Kit (Cynthia Fay, dec.) of Saint Paul, MN, her daughter Susan (Bradley Sowash) of Columbus, OH, her son Scott of Burlington, VT, and her daughter Lynne (Michael Millard) of Tunbridge, VT, six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and loving nieces and nephews.

A graduate of Western College for Women, she raised four children before enrolling at Ohio State University, earning her doctorate in education in 1982. She then joined the staff at the University and served until her retirement in 1995. At her retirement she was an associate vice president for human resources.

Gay developed the first orientation program at OSU for re-entering women students. She created the BRIDGE program in Continuing Education to provide support for University staff pursuing course work, which became a national model. She was one of the founders in 1986 of the Critical Difference for Women program, which continues to provide grants and scholarships for women seeking advanced education and enhanced professional lives at Ohio State.

She co-chaired with Dr. John Herrick the first campus campaign, for which she received the Reese Medal in 1992, Ohio State’s highest honor recognizing exceptional service in private philanthropy. She received the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for exceptional service to the university.

She was a leader throughout her life. Prior to her years at Ohio State, she served as President of the Junior League, she was active in the Urban Education Coalition’s campaign to desegregate the Columbus Public Schools, and she co-founded Options for Adults, a career counseling service.

Gay was a lifelong learner and writer. Upon retirement, she took many courses at OSU, participated in reading and writing groups, and wrote several books of poetry and sketches of fellow Westminster Thurber residents. She worked throughout the decades to promote equity for women, people of color and people on the margins of society. She had a strong moral compass, an active curiosity about the world, and a deep devotion to her family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made at the following:

  • To the Critical Difference for Women Scholarship (308720) at The Ohio State University either online here or by check payable to The Ohio State University Foundation (1480 West Lane Avenue Columbus, OH 43221). Please reference fund 308720 on your check.
  • To Doctors Without Borders, either online here or by check (PO Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030.
To read other condolences, please visit the Ohio Cremation & Memorial Society.
Posted by Martha Davis on June 14, 2020
I couldn’t write until now. Despite the fact that for the last four or five years she’d been telling me that we might not meet again, her actual departure leaves an enormous hole. What a wonderful woman, and what a wonderful friend! Her public work in the community and at the University was remarkably valuable (I used to love calling her at her pre-OSU office and hear the receptionist cheerily answer “You have Options!”) But It was our was private friendship that made her one of the anchors of my life. She counseled me through career decisions, through divorce and remarriage, through challenges with my children. Almost equally valuable, she let me feel that I was sometimes a good counselor to her. She could be fierce; the North Star of her values shone brightly, and it wasn’t always easy to get her to agree that there might be another side to an argument. But truthfully, I almost always knew that she was right. I loved her, and I’ll miss her the rest of the way.
Posted by Andrew Workum on June 6, 2020
Compared to many who have left tributes, my connection with Gay is of a shorter duration, starting in 1993 when Tracy and I were married and joined St. Stephens church in columbus where Gay and I served on the Vestry. Our (she, tracy and i plus our various kitties and puppies) spent many times together - Columbus, Cape Cod and Florida. We loved Gay dearly and grew to love her daughters Susan, Kit and Lynne. I don't know where Gay is now but I will be mightily upset if I am not scheduled to ever see her again, in some form, some connection. We knew the end was imminent for her time on this planet. That did not prepare me for her leaving. I no longer can call her and ask "Is this the very erudite and breathtakingly beautiful Margaret Gay Hadley?" and hear her respond: "It is". I no longer can tease her and help her laugh. She is no longer here to love me as I loved her. "Missing" does not cover the loss. Gay may be in a better place. I am not.
Posted by Jeredith Merrin on June 4, 2020
Thinking of Gay, a word that comes to me is "clear." I got to know her first as a student in my undergraduate poetry workshop. Anyone reading this knew and loved Gay, so when I say it was she who made that poetry workshop "sparkle," you will know what I mean. Then Gay honored me and gave me great support and joy by enrolling in many additional classes I taught at OSU. And during these years, we became real friends: I house-sat for her when she went out of town; when she was in town we met often at our favorite spot for smoothies and muffins, where we sometimes held hands-- and where she gave me clear, forthright advice about hard things, where we each talked about our pride in our children, and where we laughed often. ( No deeper concord than real laughter.) One day over smoothies--shortly before I was leaving Ohio to retire near my family in Arizona--Gay told me, clearly: If some day you hear that I died don't be sad; I'm OK with it. Thank you for teaching me, Gay. Love, jm 
Posted by David St Clair on May 27, 2020
Had the amazing pleasure of knowing Gay as a friend and neighbor in Victorian Village. She helped make my time in Columbus so special and familial. Had the opportunity to know many of her beautiful family. We shared many friends and had many special times together that will not be forgotten. She still has a place in my heart! 
David St Clair
Posted by Chris Shearer on May 26, 2020
I love you Nana. That laugh of yours. I'll never forget it. I can't think of it with out smiling.
It's so lovely that you shared your passion for poetry with the people you loved. About five weeks ago, during a quarantine spring cleaning binge, I came across a book you gifted me back in 1996. I was about to graduate high school and head off to college. It was your own copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke. It contained a letter you composed to me on the typewriter, passages you underlined, and notes you made in page margins. I quickly abandoned my cleaning project and got lost in them all. We hadn't seen each other in a while, but I felt instantly reconnected. It's a treasure I'll hold dear.
Thank you for your belief in me!
Posted by Stephanie Fay on May 25, 2020
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman. Many years ago, Gay and I ventured out in a very tiny RV for a couple of nights exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior. I was, to no surprise, a wonderful road trip. And fun!

Rest in peace, Gay.
Posted by Nina Hoppes on May 25, 2020
Gay Hadley lived a long, strong, purposeful life. One cannot ask for better legacy than that.
Posted by Kelly Young on May 24, 2020
You had such a big impact on my life. From poetry readings at our house, my bridal shower, house/dog sitting, conversations about life, death, feminism, justice, religion, and so much more, you were a soul sister from another generation. I’m mourning your death but celebrating your life. Thank you for everything, sweet friend.
Posted by Jane Hoffelt on May 24, 2020
I just heard of your mom’s (and grandmother’s) death this morning and I am heartbroken. But I smile also, knowing that she was ready--and had been ready--for her death for years. I admired her opinions on life stages and death. I also admired that she was so very proud of her children and her grandkids. We talked of each of you many times through the years and I was honored that she shared with me the joys of her family in addition to her poetry, her passions for reading, politics, learning, friendship, her challenges, and, well, life in general, and too many other topics to count. Gay profoundly changed my life in many ways, both professionally and personally. I can’t even begin to convey how much I loved and appreciated her. I mourn her leaving this earth and I celebrate her life with joy. Love and hugs to you all.
Posted by Ellen Rose on May 24, 2020
How long were Gay and I friends? 60 years.Longer? Friends and confidantes through thick and thin and there were a lot of thicks. We were often on the same page with our thoughts and ideas and I was her VP in the Junior League .She made me toe the line which often was a challenge for both if us. I loved her dearly . She was part of the best times of my life. Peace forever,my dear.
Posted by Weldon Ihrig on May 23, 2020
Several years ago Gay and I exchanged her poetry and my haiku. While reflecting on those times the following haiku emerged describing her:           

Joyful, open smile /
Inquisitive, poet’s vision /
Gracious, full of life.

I recently read this poem by the Chinese poet Li Bo. I wish I’d had the opportunity to share it with Gay, she would have loved it.
“We who live on the earth / are but travelers; / the dead like those / who have returned home; / all people are as if / living in some inn, / in the end each and every one / going to the same place.”
(Li Bo translated by Rewi Alley)

Gay was a special friend who will be sorely missed. Each of us is richer to have had Gay in our lives.
Posted by Susan Knox on May 23, 2020
Gay and I were leaving the OSU Faculty Club after lunch in the early 80s and she hooked her arm through mine and said, “I have a feeling we’re going to be good friends.” And good friends we were. I could always count on Gay to give me a first-rate book recommendation and straight talk.

When my husband, Weldon, and I moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1990, she came to visit telling me she wanted to see where we lived. We drove her to the Oregon coast and hiked in the Cascade Mountains. I’ll never forget taking her to the outdoor Saturday Market set up in the center of Eugene. She took a look at the unique culture and said, “ I feel like saying ‘Impeach Nixon!’”

Six years later we moved to Seattle and she again came to visit. We valued her friendship and loved having her with us. Fond memories of a wonderful woman.
Posted by John Belcher on May 23, 2020
Gay was such an amazing woman and and wonderful aunt! A line from her poem "This I Believe" states "People who go on learning also go on living", this really captures Gay for me. A formidable and intelligent woman, she will be greatly missed by Tanya and I. We are so grateful we got to spend some quality time with her these last couple of years.
Posted by Susan Hartmann on May 23, 2020
Remembering my dear friend with gratitude for 30+ years of her wisdom and compassion, her poetry, her company at plays, concerts, and movies, and her inspiration to make a difference.
Posted by Ben Hadley on May 22, 2020
Love you friend. You could have simply chosen to be my aunt but instead you made me your friend. The time you gave and the energy invested resulted in a better person. Shared my flaws and was trusted with yours. I choose your influence and will pass it along to someone else.  See you on the other side (if I'm lucky, and am already lucky). Grateful for you.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Martha Davis on June 14, 2020
I couldn’t write until now. Despite the fact that for the last four or five years she’d been telling me that we might not meet again, her actual departure leaves an enormous hole. What a wonderful woman, and what a wonderful friend! Her public work in the community and at the University was remarkably valuable (I used to love calling her at her pre-OSU office and hear the receptionist cheerily answer “You have Options!”) But It was our was private friendship that made her one of the anchors of my life. She counseled me through career decisions, through divorce and remarriage, through challenges with my children. Almost equally valuable, she let me feel that I was sometimes a good counselor to her. She could be fierce; the North Star of her values shone brightly, and it wasn’t always easy to get her to agree that there might be another side to an argument. But truthfully, I almost always knew that she was right. I loved her, and I’ll miss her the rest of the way.
Posted by Andrew Workum on June 6, 2020
Compared to many who have left tributes, my connection with Gay is of a shorter duration, starting in 1993 when Tracy and I were married and joined St. Stephens church in columbus where Gay and I served on the Vestry. Our (she, tracy and i plus our various kitties and puppies) spent many times together - Columbus, Cape Cod and Florida. We loved Gay dearly and grew to love her daughters Susan, Kit and Lynne. I don't know where Gay is now but I will be mightily upset if I am not scheduled to ever see her again, in some form, some connection. We knew the end was imminent for her time on this planet. That did not prepare me for her leaving. I no longer can call her and ask "Is this the very erudite and breathtakingly beautiful Margaret Gay Hadley?" and hear her respond: "It is". I no longer can tease her and help her laugh. She is no longer here to love me as I loved her. "Missing" does not cover the loss. Gay may be in a better place. I am not.
Posted by Jeredith Merrin on June 4, 2020
Thinking of Gay, a word that comes to me is "clear." I got to know her first as a student in my undergraduate poetry workshop. Anyone reading this knew and loved Gay, so when I say it was she who made that poetry workshop "sparkle," you will know what I mean. Then Gay honored me and gave me great support and joy by enrolling in many additional classes I taught at OSU. And during these years, we became real friends: I house-sat for her when she went out of town; when she was in town we met often at our favorite spot for smoothies and muffins, where we sometimes held hands-- and where she gave me clear, forthright advice about hard things, where we each talked about our pride in our children, and where we laughed often. ( No deeper concord than real laughter.) One day over smoothies--shortly before I was leaving Ohio to retire near my family in Arizona--Gay told me, clearly: If some day you hear that I died don't be sad; I'm OK with it. Thank you for teaching me, Gay. Love, jm 
her Life

Going on Eighty

From porcelain dreams by Gay Hadley

Like a child who longs to be ten
says she is ten
from the day she turns nine,

    I have been going on eighty for years.

It is my four-minute mile,
my blue ribbon
for persistence, if not skill.

    Enough, I say, eighty will be enough.

Still, I had a dream
about a craggy place, a stone’s throw
from a mountain peak
from where you could,

if you stood on
your toes and peered over,
see a felicitous land
you have never visited

that looks exactly like home.

Memories from Kit and Susan Hadley

Starting on the drive to Michigan at 5 a.m., sleeping in our pajamas in the back of the station wagon, for which Mom had made a special cushion covering the whole back, then waking up at 8:00 for breakfast at Howard Johnson’s in Lansing.

At Lake St. Helen, having so much fun with the Hamilton’s. Mom and Aunt Beth took care of us kids during the week and Dad and Uncle Bob came up on the weekend. Mom and Aunt Beth cut a deal. Mom would do any chore as long as Aunt Beth would play games with us. Mom diving off the dock and swimming vigorously in the freezing water.

Coming home from the Hamilton’s late at night, sleeping in the back of the station wagon, and then being lifted into our beds by Mom and Dad.

So many camping trips, miles and hours and singing and maps in the car. For a while in the 1960’s, Mom wore her hair in a French roll. Once on a long car trip, with four bored children in the back seat, Mom put her sunglasses on the back of her head, over the French roll, and tied a scarf backwards on her head. Then as we passed other cars, she would turn toward the other car and “look out” the window. It kept us amused…for a while.

The tent trailer and the kitchen box. In the mornings, Mom would shout out from her sleeping bag in the camper “COfffeeeeee!” Although not the outdoor adventurer, she hung in there during our summer camping trips. She loved exposing us kids through our travels, even though sleeping near the ground was not really her greatest joy.

Successive children sitting at the dining room table doing homework while Mom, as the years passed, typing a speech for a Junior League event, doing work for the church Governing Board, studying for an OSU class, learning to balance the checkbook for her first checking account. Reading Mom our school papers with many editing suggestions flying back along with prods to think more deeply.

Many gatherings with beef barbeque sandwiches, and food on the buffet.

Mom’s sewing room and kitchen served as a counseling center for our friends and neighborhood kids. They said, “they could really talk with her.” Countless days after school, coming home and leaning on the buffet talking to Mom in the kitchen through the pass-through about…anything.

Calling in a sophomore college crisis and having her send Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, with the page marked that said, “Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart…..”

Sitting in the Ohio Stadium (the Shoe), cheering the procession of Ph.D. candidates, and watching our mom ascend the stage to receive her PhD. The keynote speaker was…Woody Hayes!

Being so proud and deeply personally affected by Mom’s leadership and courage throughout the decades: the Junior League, the Urban Education Coalition, getting her PhD., Options, the Bridge Program, Critical Difference.

Mom’s retirement party at the Thurber house… when Aunt Beth remembered that, as children, she thought Mom was a “prude” and Mom though Aunt Beth was a “tramp.”

Mom showing up at the hospital when Bryn was born….and showing up at the hospital with Bryn when Molly was born. Later, for high school graduation presents, family cruises in the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Mom showing up always and forever for Bryn and Molly.

Canoeing with Mom and friends on the Kinnickinnic River in Wisconsin when Mom looked up at the sky and said “Look at that beautiful shade of green!” Minutes later huddled together being drenched by a serious storm that, a few miles north, was a straight-line wind tornado.

Mom and Ruth Fay toasting Cynthia and Kit at their wedding in 1991. Although they had just met, they agreed that what they had in common was their love for their daughters and their hopes for our happiness.

Taking the Empire Builder to Williston, North Dakota, at harvest time. Watching the beautiful prairie pass by from our sleeper car. Visiting the farm where Ruth Fay grew up. Meeting Brad and Charlie for lunch in the wheat fields and going for a ride in the combine. Ruth trying to chase away the equipment salesperson so he couldn’t try to talk Brad into another expensive piece of equipment. Mom clicked so easily with Charlie and Ruth. A magical trip.

Many sweet hours spent at the cabin in Minnesota, the straw bale house in Vermont (and helping build the garage), and the many holidays and evenings with games and music at the farm in Athens. Talking with Mom on the screened porch at Cynthia’s cabin and, at just the right hour, Cynthia bringing Mom her gin-and-tonic.

Mom attended almost every one of Susan’s performances and choreography. She always began her insightful critique with, “Well, I don’t know much about dance, but…” After many decades, she knew so much.

Wonderful trips to London and the Lake District, Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, Washington D.C., Charleston, with a Thanksgiving picnic on the beach with Lynne and Kit.

Mom wrote two books of sketches about the people and life at Westminster Thurber. After a reading of selections from the first book, a resident bought copies for each of his six children so that they might better understand why he enjoyed living at Thurber. On a visit to help with Mom’s recovery from back surgery, three different people mentioned the book. The security guard complimented the book. The physical therapist teased Mom about the day that she might appear in a book. And when a couple came to visit Mom in rehab, they introduced themselves and said, “We’re in the book.”

Mom kept a “Funeral” file for 40 years. She started it in 1980, made changes in 2000 and 2016, and made copies for the children. At different points, she wanted In the Blackwater Woods and When Death Comes by Mary Oliver, The Far Field by Theodore Roethke, and anything by Molly. She wanted Bradley’s music and one hymn, Abide with Me. She hoped we would read Roy Burkhart’s beloved benediction:

And now may the courage
of the early morning’s dawning,
the strength of the eternal hills
and wide open fields,
and the silent streams,
the beauty of the flowered gardens,
the love that makes the family
and that alone can build
the peace of the world —
the life that is Christ
and the peace of the evening’s ending
and of the midnight
be with you now and forevermore.

Memories from Lynne Hadley

My Nana, Mom's mom, retired from teaching, the noble profession, when I was born. She died the week I went to college, lips pursed against eating. I didn't attend her dying or funeral, as perhaps I may not attend my mothers. I am peaceful about this.
I saw Nana's baby portrait—same face, clear as day—over the fireplace in the old president's house (turned admissions) when I visited Colgate. The aura of my great-grandfather permeates Athens, Ohio, for me; and spreads across the mythology of my mother's childhood and mine. What a story, and what interesting, clear timing our family has...
*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
For a woman who loved her comfort
wanted to be home, cozy at dusk
mom travelled some great distances in her ninety year life
from the scary and courageous journeys with her mother and brother
to the foiled flight & epic ride to Ocracoke when she met a Pink Macaw and 13 other birds in a trailer, 
read poetry to an awed and appreciative audience, walked a beach Labyrinth at Equinox with a feather in her hair
I feel fortunate to have gone on many journeys with her. I attended day care, got called a 'women's libbie' in fourth grade. She crossed midlife and into single life as I was coming of age. We sat at the dining room table, she did statistics and learned to balance her checkbook while I did homework. I was in college when she received her Ph.D. A shining moment, etched.
I remember like today when she shared her life-changing dream of the thorny briar hedge she broke through to reach the life-giving waters. I was a teen. I watched in awe as she suffered a terrible boss. I watched as she looked ahead of herself to create her work in the world. Displaced Homemaker. Options. Bridges upon bridges. Retirement. Aging. Death with Dignity. Just as grown men approached my Nana to thank her for her inspiring teaching, so people came up to Mom with thanks and appreciation. For decades. At the nursing home. Even caretakers, bless them.
I remember all the women. Ladies in pearls. Legs in the pool. The women of stitch and bitch, cookie swap and dinner club celebrating their collective 40th by marching in black through the neighborhood to durge music on the boom-box. The scholar at OSU who said of being a professional woman, 'we had it easy back then, we had help'. And the variety of dear friends long and new, up unto her last residence.
Once she attended a conference in Boston. I met her at a hotel. She was reading Silence of the Lambs. I got hooked while she was in a session. We had to go out and get another copy plus take-out so we could binge read, side by side, late into the night.
She loved my home and visited even though the trip was rough. She was at turns horrified and fascinated about my life choices. Amazingly, given our differences, she travelled comfortably with me and was always game. I know I was rich fodder for her stories.
There's the sleeping on "tofus" and wearing "Haagen Dazs" sandals comments. The time she sat in the comfiest spot in a group of sixteen friends perched with spoons, passing quarts of Ben & Jerry's (back when it was Ben and Jerry's). The January Thaw Pictionary Tournament in Pajamas she bravely survived (not the pajamas, the drawing!). She tolerated the home-made wine but never stopped calling my food 'beige', even after many a central vermont pot-luck salad proved her wrong.
I remember that rainy visit—living above a garage under a tin roof, with chamber pot and outhouse down stairs, across the garden. She stayed in either the flannel or the lace nightgown and drank copious amounts of coffee while, on the bed, we edited Living an August Life. She allowed as how, she must henceforth, upon visiting, have a bed on a frame above the floor. She was 67.
In London, 11pm, we emerged from the theatre into the most serious world of punk I have ever seen. And crowded. Big green and neon red spikes, lots of Goth leather and metal. After her bedtime. No sense of direction to a cabbie. She buckled down. From this the mantra of later years, 'We are not lost, we just don't know where we are." Surprised it never emerged as a poem.
I love the time we ended up walking with one headlamp up a dirt road in an ice storm at midnight on New Year's eve. When peeled of her layers, she was drenched, wry, proud, and exhausted. She was in her early seventies.
We made car pilgrimages to Peterborough NH, to her Dean of Students, who lived in a Kendall community, and my friend, a homesteading, single, peace-core Quaker who lived with a wood stove. Like visions of our own different aging. When Allison chose to stop eating and died at home (because she didn't want to support big pharm. by taking Ibuprofen), Mom watched carefully.
There is a place in the meadow that will always hold the memory of her last snow shoe. Sunny day, just enough incline; down she went and down she stayed, despite turning and heaving. Much pulling and much laughter ensued. She was 78.
Full spiral when, at 81, she met my daughter Cyla, age 3, at Molly's senior musical. I dressed Cyla in a tunic that was the family's dotted swiss christening gown. After the eyebrows and the glance, she took it in stride. This is a snapshot of what happened to many of the fine things that came my way through her stewardship of precious possessions. Scratched, given or long gone, loved and repurposed.
Oh, the miles and hours and singing and maps in the car. The camper and the kitchen box. The laden silence after being told we'd been going the wrong direction for five hours. The wry comment decades later, "Why would I want to do what I always did, but without modern conveniences?" 
I felt for how we teased her, and credit her good-natured acceptance of that role. She had a darn good alto harmony for Joy to the World, and I sang it to her on one of our last rambling, mostly one-way calls. Out of the favorites, without a poetry book to hand, I dug deep. I teased her on another call, saying it was our turn to talk and she just had to listen. With a chuckle, I read Wendell Berry, who she doesn't really like. From Timbered Choir, 1985,II. It ends....
when what was made has been unmade
the maker comes to his work
I swear I heard her distinctly appreciative sound
She helped me build my house with the caveat that I must build a place for her to spend her last days. At some moment we realized this would not happen—at the time it seemed a very important anchor for safety at dusk.  I often promised her I would be with her when she died. I wanted this for myself! 
My sorrow at not being present is subsumed in the fact that Susan was with her, and we, through our voices; and that she then went to sleep as she had hoped. There was no 'party on the first floor while she went up to bed', but I have called over a dozen dear ones, and we sisters divided her list in thirds! At ninety, Mom, when 80 was your stated crowning, what a tribute—or as we say up here, "Good on ya!"
Now the spare hills of new england are draped in the lacey greens and red you loved
You, at least, first, have found the answer to one of life's 'persistent questions' which we often pondered together
here still, I believe I am the one grinning most
the buddhists say every being has been my mother; still, 
I give thanks to you for being my mother this time
In the manner of John O'Donohue "too mushy"
and a touch of Robert Frost, beloved
May you know you are never abandoned, but attended
through all form, your soul commended
The heart always breaks open
I love you, Mama
Recent stories
Shared by Ann Hamilton on June 16, 2020
When I think of friendship I think of GAY HADLEY. Memories from the whole of my life are twinned with this extraordinary life-long friend.We were first together at the age of four, our March birthdays are within days of each other and our mothers, Florence and Lois, were friends.  While not close through high-school, Gay thought I was a tramp and I thought she was a prude, as young mothers our worlds came close and our families grew up together.
There were camping trips and songs around the fire, evenings of endless board games, thanksgiving in Williamsburg and  blueberry picking in Maine.The kids would orchestrate theatrical performances that Gay would watch completely rapt and applaud with such enthusiasm we were all sure it was Shakespeare. She was always like that with her attention, gave it generously to what was in front of her, cheered on every act of imagination
from children’s plays to support for the role of women in the university. In retirement Gay and I participated in OSU”s Over 60 program. We selected a Professor, Gay knew so many of them personally or by reputation, and then more practically we made our final decision based on the distance between the lecture hall and the parking lot,  It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this to know that I was a quiet student but Gay always raised her hand to contribute and the professor came to appreciate and perhaps even  lecture to her keen attention.

As Gay went on to get her PhD and everything she initiated after, founding Options and participating in leadership at the university,she didn’t leave us behind. She brought her world to us and made our world larger. Gay’s moral ethical clarity and all the ways she found to act on what she believed always inspired me.


These are the events, small and large, that make memory, that make up life’s richness.
But the deeper stream that connected us and connected Gay to so many cannot be told as easily as an event, or revealed in Gay’s list of many many accomplishments as a leader and social activistand then later in her more solitary reflective life in writing and poetry.

As different as we were we shared a sense of recognition that wasn’t about the surface of things.Though she could certainly laugh it off when a surface thing took on unseemly importance.I felt recognized in her presence in a way that had nothing to do with outward descriptions and could talk any small or large issue through with Gay.
She was fair. She challenged me. She was my solid sounding board.
Gay’s listening was a form of “what-if” that opened possibilities and invited change or another way of thinking about things and whatever the subject Gay always wanted a real discussion, wanted to make things better. She wasn’t afraid but wasn’t aggressive about disagreeing. Gay invited debate that no one had to win.

Gay was OUR Friend.  A friend to me to everyone in my family to hundreds of others.
She loved us, accepted all our human imperfection. She was a woman making a beautiful life
And true to form –up to the very end -   Gay Hadley never stopped growing .
Oh we did so love her and now her love continues to dwell in all of us.


Beth Hamilton ( with Ann)


Aunt Gay - snapshots from Stacy

Shared by Stacy Belcher Lee on June 3, 2020
I heard the news from  my brother  on a Tuesday night. I thought I would wait until the sad passed a bit before I would write and then the following Tuesday Mom was diagnosed with cancer after succesfully coming home from 3 and half weeks of surgery and isolation in Covid 19 stricken Hong Kong where we were not able to see her or to telephone but had to wait for calls every few days from the staff caring for her.
But the sad has not lessened much and that struggle, that acknowledgement of the black dog and determination to get through the poop storm and get to the giggles again, the ability to use the frustration and not drown in it, that is something I learned from watching Aunt Gay and Mom and Nana. I will be forever grateful to them.
When I was a young woman and my first marriage and my life had fallen apart and I was determined to go back to school and find a new path, it was Aunt Gay who wrote a reference for me and simultaneously gave me a straight talk about some of my more egregious character defects and what I might do about them. Salty and sweet she was always and it was damned effective.
Later in life, after I had lived in Hong Kong for years and found the love of my life here, we came to visit Aunt Gay for a day in Columbus and she made my husband Hoyin so welcome and feel so much a part of our family. She took us on a tour of OSU and arrranged for a tour of the Architecture Faculty and to meet with the Dean, as Hoyin is the Head of the Architecture Conservation and Preservation Division at HKU, and it was a special treat. We had a fabulous lunch together and a lot of laughs.  We always hoped that she might be able to visit us here because she would have loved Hong Kong and its exciting differentness but at that point in her life I think the idea of 26 hours or more on planes and in airports was less than thrilling.

I miss her as I miss all of my extended family and friends because we are so very far away but knowing that there will not be one more chance to hear that crack of laughter that was so her, or catch that glint in her eye that meant she was ticked off at someone or some situation she disapproved of, to know that we will never hear her stories of Nana and Dad and the family again? That is a hard, sharp pain under the breast bone and an aching throb behind the eyes.
But this too shall pass and the loss will be replaced with the warmth of many happy memories and the glow of gratitude to have known her.

From someone who considered you a Grandmother

Shared by Sarah Taylor on May 31, 2020
Dear Gay,

I love you so much. Just thinking about you makes my eyes fill with tears. You had such a joyful smile and infectious laugh. You were sharp and driven and passionate about books, politics, and writing poetry. External factors or your relationships to others: mother, sister, (ex-)wife, grandmother were not all that defined who you were. You built your own career, raised your children on your own, divorced when divorce was never an option for women, got your PhD and kicked butt leading your team in HR at Ohio State University. You touched the lives of countless people in ways I cannot even imagine.

You were a third grandmother to me. Did I ever tell you as much? Did I ever tell you how much you meant to me? I worry that I did not. That I went my whole 26 years of existence without telling you, and now it’s too late.

You taught me by example how to live a life of grace. How to live a life of adventure and love and joy and learning. How fitting to commemorate you and your life with the written word as you yourself wrote with such purpose. You were compelled to write, to create, to publish. After your ninety years on Earth you have left a physical memory of your soul. Your essence left an indelible presence on pages and pages. Pages that you could hold in your hands. Could caress the pads of your fingers along their edges and against their margins. 

I aspire to do the same - to write - so that, 64 years from now I can look back on my written soul, my creative heart, expressed for all to see. Much as I will cherish your book of poetry, so I hope generations who follow me will read it and experience my writing and learn from it. Perhaps what I write will make people stop to think, to pause to soak in the gravity or beauty of my stories as yours made me pause in recognition of how well you captured the human experience in the written word.

My love always, 

Your granddaughter, Sarah