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