Katie Taylor contacted me in September 2015 to ask if I might be able to gather a few items from her Aunt Lillian Cabell Gay’s time at Collegiate in advance of “Lil’s” 100th birthday. “Sure” I said. It was a simple request. An hour tops.
Well, not exactly. I emerged a month later, deeply fascinated by the life of this incredible woman from the Class of 1932 and with enough material to fill a good sized binder. By all accounts it was well received.
I received word from Katie at the end of May that Lillian Cabell Gay passed away on May 6, 2016.
How do you eulogize someone you’ve never met? By taking measure of the things they left behind, of the people they loved and those who loved them. In that spirit I’ve shared below some of the material found while researching Lillian’s life and the obituary for Mrs. Gay that was shared with me. Taken all together, I think you get a sense of Lillian Cabell Gay, Aunt Lillian, “Lil,” of her adventurous life, and of a life well lived.
Lillian Cabell Gay, of Lakewood, Pennsylvania, died on May 6, 2016 in Waymart, Pennsylvania where she had been a resident of Wayne Woodlands Manor for the last ten months.
Lillian was born on October 16, 1915 in Richmond, Virginia. She enjoyed what she once described as a “magical” childhood in Richmond’s Ginter Park neighborhood where she was embraced by her extended family, friends, and her church family at the Ginter Park Presbyterian Church. She graduated from the Collegiate School and received a BA degree in Biblical Literature from Sweet Briar College in 1936. While attending college, she spent summers at Camp Barnard in Vermont’s Green Mountains where she led wilderness canoe trips and served as a waterfront instructor.
Following her graduation from college, Lillian taught at The Cathedral School in Havana, Cuba, and also tutored privately.
In 1940, she married James Rowland Gay, also of Richmond, with whom she shared seventy-five years of loving marriage. Lillian supported Jim’s medical career as a neurosurgeon in every way; during the early years of his practice, she was his office administrator.
A medical colleague of Jim’s was barred from leaving his homeland of Cuba during the early years of the Castro regime, but he sent his children unaccompanied to the United States. Lillian and Jim opened their home and hearts to these children and others in similar situations and raised them as their own.
During the course of Jim’s medical practice, he and Lillian lived in White Plains, NY; Columbus, OH; Bethlehem, PA; Albuquerque, NM; and Memphis, TN. They took delight in welcoming family and friends into their home wherever they were located. They joined local Presbyterian Churches in which Lillian often served as deacon or elder. They also traveled extensively, embracing the culture of whatever country they were visiting and meeting residents, many of whom became life-long friends.
After Jim’s retirement in 1982, he and Lillian moved to Lakewood, Pennsylvania where they enjoyed the beauty of their home’s natural surroundings on Little Spruce Lake. They pursued their love of fishing, most often as members of the Juniper Club in Florida. Lillian belonged to the Honesdale Rotary Club where she was a Paul Harris Fellow. She attended the First Presbyterian Church in Honesdale and the Lake Como United Methodist Church in Lake Como.
Lillian will long be remembered for the twinkle in her eye, her infectious laughter, her engaging stories, and above all, for her love of family, friends, and God.
She was preceded in death by her husband James, her parents Royal and Lillian Lorraine Cabell, and her brothers Charles, William, and Royal Cabell.
She is survived by her Cuban children Rolando Bonachea, Sergio Diaz-Briquets, Arhran Perez, and Ana and George Picaza; her sister-in-law, Ruth Gay Frederick; and her nieces and nephews Elizabeth Weinstein, Christina Bennett, Charles Cabell, Katie Taylor, Bill Cabell, Sharon Hadley, Carolyn Homer, Anne Warnott, Gay Opdyke, Berkeley Adams, and James Adams.