Friends and relatives are mourning the passing of a woman described as a pillar of the community.
Christene Gay died Monday at her home on Madison Avenue at the age of 79.
“She was a fine Christian lady. She was a friend to everyone. She was a wonderful musician in her church, and a wonderful musician generally,” Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said.
Burtner met Gay when he moved to Winchester more than 30 years ago, and said she was a true friend to the community.
“She will be missed,” Burtner said.
Long-time friend Deatra Newell commended Gay for her willingness to help others, and her commitment to friends and family.
“What I can say for Ms. Christene, scripture says it best: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ Ms. Christene reached out to everybody, whether they were black or white,” Newell said.
Newell became acquainted with Gay as a child while attending Broadway Baptist Church. The two still attended church together just prior to Gay’s death, and Newell recalled seeing Gay at services on Sunday.
“Sunday, nobody would have known that Monday morning, this would have been the case,” Newell said.
Despite her age, Gay was still active in the community, playing the piano at the Generations Center and helping with the music ministry at church whenever needed. She served as minister of music at Broadway Baptist for more than 50 years, Newell said.
“Any function that was going on in the community, Ms. Christene was there to support. If the piano player wasn’t there, she would pick up the pieces and keep going,” Newell said.
Gay also was a member of the Heritage Park Board, served as the grand marshal of the Labor Day parade in 2008, and organized church groups to sing for the residents of Rose Mary C. Brooks Place. The students at George Rogers Clark High School voted to award her the Martin Luther King Jr. Award, sponsored by Central Bank.
Fellow Broadway Baptist Church member Flora Shelby said Gay was a friend to everyone she met. Shelby said she had known Gay for her entire life, and considered her a dear friend.
“I can’t say anything bad about her,” Shelby said.
She praised Gay for her willingness to help at the church, and said she was the kind of person people would talk to if they had a problem.
“I guess God was just ready to pick his flower,” Shelby said.
Gay is survived by her three children, Larry Gay, Eugene Gay Jr. and Debbie Gay; six grandchildren, Dwain Gay, Nicholas Gay, Andriene Gay, Kevin Clark, Ron Hooten and Kaliah Williams; and numerous great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene Gay, and grandson Anthony Gay.
“She was a true missionary throughout the community, always helping people,” Newell said.
Contact Rachel Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.