Cover photo for Betty Jean Gay's Obituary
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1927 Betty 2023

Betty Jean Gay

July 14, 1927 — June 14, 2023

Oklahoma City

Betty Jean Gay died at rest at the age of 95 at Epworth Villa in Oklahoma City on June14. Born Betty Jean Baker on a farm northeast of Lindsay in McClain County in 1927, she taught herself to read by the age of five and began a life-long habit of reading the Daily Oklahoman every day, a practice she continued without break for ninety years. She attended the rural elementary school at Payne community, while also learning to play piano, and finished high school at Wayne, Oklahoma, before majoring in music education at Oklahoma State University. While in college at Stillwater, she met Army Air Corps and World War II veteran Joe Gay. They married in 1948, and, after living briefly on a farm near Ringwood, Oklahoma, moved to the farm near Lindsay where she had spent much of her childhood.

There, they raised four children and grew cattle, soybeans, and small grains, and together built the Gay Seed Company agri-business. Betty played the piano and taught Sunday school at Payne Baptist Church and later served as church pianist at Cavalry Baptist Church in Lindsay. An enthusiastic seamstress, she sewed clothes for herself and family members. At the same time, she developed a career as a writer, with published poetry, articles, and essays. Among other activities as an avid reader and lifelong learner, she studied Russian and surprised a group of Soviet agricultural observers by greeting them and conversing in Russian when they visited the farm in 1962. A strong believer in education, she also volunteered as a teacher of adult literacy. She enjoyed walking and observing the natural beauty and wildlife of the rural setting in which she lived.

Betty and Joe retired from farming and agri-business and moved to Epworth Villa retirement center in Oklahoma City in 2000, where she continued playing the piano, writing, and providing sewing repairs and alterations for other residents.

Betty was preceded in death by her husband Joe Gay; her father J.A. "Doc" Baker; her mother Edna "Hun" Baker; brothers Ual Baker and Oal Baker; and sister Bonnie Eidt. She is survived by her son Tom Gay and his spouse Jeanene Gay of Houston, Texas; her daughter Nancy Gay of Missoula, Montana; her son Don Gay of Missoula, Montana; her son Wayne Gay of Arlington, Texas; and her six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at 2 pm on July 31 at Brill Chapel at Epworth Villa in Oklahoma City. Memorials and tributes may be directed to the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition at or to the Oklahoma State University Foundation, P.O. Box 1749, Stillwater, OK 74706, specified to the Betty & Joe Gay Endowed Scholarship Fund.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Betty Jean Gay, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Monday, July 31, 2023

2:00pm - 11:00 am (Central time)

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