Five Minutes With... Connie Gay

Five Minutes With... Connie Gay

February 14, 2014 

The eastern Wake native said she is interested in storms, along with hearing tales of survival every year at Relay for Life.

Q: You are the co-chair for the East Wake Relay for Life. What led you to become involved with Relay, the annual fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society?

A: My cousin, Bobbi Jane Duke, was involved. We have had quite a few family members, including in my husband’s family, who we have lost to cancer or who battled cancer. I lost my dad in 2007. He died of lung cancer and I think that is when it made a big impact on me. My first Relay was in 2008 and I have been involved ever since.

Q: Was your dad a smoker?

A: He did smoke off and on. He would also chew tobacco and he would smoke cigars. I was also a smoker and I quit six years ago. I would watch him struggle to take a breath and I would think, ‘What am I doing to myself?’ When he died, I wanted to get involved to help find a cure. Cancer does not pick and choose. It can affect anyone. We have lost a lot of good people to that awful disease.

Q: What brings you back year after year?

A: I like to be involved – to see the people. And I like a challenge. It is a challenge to raise more money than the year before. We do have good support in eastern Wake for Relay but I would like to see more businesses get involved. We have a Relay float and when we ride on the float in the annual Christmas parades, we have a lot of people really cheer and clap when they see us. We do well for being in a small area — we raised $113,000 last year — but we can do much better if more businesses would get on board.

Q: Tell us a little about your personal life.

A: I have been married 33 years to David Gay. We have two children: Joshua, who is 30 and a physician’s assistant in Washington D.C. and our daughter, Kristen, who lives in Sylva ... and is pregnant with our first grandchild. I worked for 32 years with Progress Energy. After the merger, I retired. For about one year, I stayed at home and I spent some time at our place at the beach, but I was ready to come back to work. I am now the office manager at State Pest Control.

Q: You have been married 33 years. What advice would you give couples on the success of having a lasting marriage?

A: Well, you definitely cannot be selfish. Marriage is give and take. And you need a lot of patience.

Q: When you are not gearing up and preparing for Relay, what takes up your time?

A: I work at the library at my church. I like to go to the beach and also go to the mountains and visit my daughter. I like to read and scrapbook.

Q: It is nice to get out of town every so often. Any trip stands out above the others?

A: After my son graduated from Duke, he did his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It was interesting to hear the doctors mention what a good job he had done. And having someone in the family that is knowledgeable about medical matters is good. My niece was in a bad wreck and will be coming home on Valentine’s Day after spending 43 days in the hospital. My son was able to explain what was going on with her injuries.

Q: What would those who know you be interested to find out about you?

A: I am interested in storms.

Q: Are you a storm chaser?

A: As long as I know I will not get hurt, it is interesting to know what happens during a storm.

Q: What are you looking forward to in this year’s Relay at Five County Stadium May 30-31?

A: I like to hear survivors tell their stories and how many years they have been cancer-free. That is always inspiring to me. I think it just pushes us to stay involved.

Correspondent Dena Coward

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