Thomas Leroy “Tom” Gay (Sr.) was born Jan. 18, 1947, in Tulsa, to John Jason and Grace Winifred (Chandler) Gay. He grew up in Oakhurst and graduated from Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa, class of 1965, and went on to study business administration and chemistry at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
Tom served two tours in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, stationed in Udorn, Thailand, attaining the rank of Sergeant in the Strategic Air Command.
In 1971, he returned to NSU where he met the love of his life, Juanita Spencer. They were married on Jan. 6, 1973, at Fort Gibson United Methodist Church. They made their home in Fort Gibson, but later moved to Tulsa.
In 1983, Tom and his brother Jerry founded 4G Welding and Supply, later 4G Service and Supply in Tahlequah. He was active in the Welling Volunteer Fire Department, Cherokee County Reserve Deputy Volunteer Program, and the Emergency Management Weather Spotters.
Tom enjoyed reading his whole life, passing his love of books on to his children. He also enjoyed waking up before the crack of dawn to go hunting, though he often caught a nap rather than the trophy.
He passed from this life on Dec. 24, 2012, after a long battle, at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa at the age of 65 years, 11 months, and six days.
Tom was preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his wife, Juanita; his mother-in-law, Sue Spencer of Fort Gibson; son, Thomas Leroy Gay Jr. and wife Melissa, of Tahlequah; daughter, Miriam Gay-Hathcoat of Tahlequah; brother, Jerry Gay of Tahlequah; sister, Pattie Gay-Sittler of Tulsa; grandchildren, Damon Gay, Taylor Gay, Gracie Gay, Miranda Gay, Dylan Hathcoat, Aurora Hathcoat and Evangeline Gay, all of Tahlequah; as well as many other family, friends, and loved ones.
Interment will take place at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery, at 1 p.m., on Jan. 14. There will be a memorial service following interment at the Tahlequah Church of the Nazarene at 2:30 p.m.
Cremation Society of Oklahoma, 2103 E. Third St., Tulsa, Okla., (918) 599-7337