Gay Hadley
1930 - 2020
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Hadley, Gay
1930 - 2020
Gay Hadley, age 90, passed away peacefully on May 18, 2020, amidst the thoughts and prayers of people who loved her: family, friends, and staff and fellow residents at Westminster Thurber. She was preceded in death by her mother and her brother. She is survived by her daughter, Kit (Cynthia Fay, dec.) of Saint Paul, MN; her daughter, Susan (Bradley Sowash) of Columbus, OH; her son, Scott of Burlington, VT; and her daughter, Lynne (Michael Millard) of Tunbridge, VT; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and loving nieces and nephews. A graduate of Western College for Women, she raised four children before enrolling at Ohio State University, earning her doctorate in education in 1982. She then joined the staff at the University and served until her retirement in 1995. At her retirement she was an associate vice president for human resources. Gay developed the first orientation program at OSU for re-entering women students. She created the BRIDGE program in Continuing Education to provide support for University staff pursuing course work, which became a national model. She was one of the founders in 1986 of the Critical Difference for Women program, which continues to provide grants and scholarships for women seeking advanced education and enhanced professional lives at Ohio State. She co-chaired with Dr. John Herrick the first campus campaign, for which she received the Reese Medal in 1992, Ohio State's highest honor recognizing exceptional service in private philanthropy. She received the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for exceptional service to the university. She was a leader throughout her life. Prior to her years at Ohio State, she served as President of the Junior League, she was active in the Urban Education Coalition's campaign to desegregate the Columbus Public Schools, and she co-founded Options for Adults, a career counseling service. Gay was a lifelong learner and writer. Upon retirement, she took many courses at OSU, participated in reading and writing groups, and wrote several books of poetry and sketches of fellow Westminster Thurber residents. She worked throughout the decades to promote equity for women, people of color and people on the margins of society. She had a strong moral compass, an active curiosity about the world, and a deep devotion to her family and friends. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Critical Difference for Women Fund at the Ohio State University or to Doctors Without Borders. More information is available at Please visit to leave an online condolence.

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Published in The Columbus Dispatch from May 21 to May 24, 2020.
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4 entries
July 23, 2020
Scott and Susan,
I wanted to send my condolences for the loss of your mother to you and your families. She was an amazing person back when I was in high school and to see all that she accomplished in her life (even through her later years) is so very remarkable! I remember the house on Abington and how welcoming she was to me. She has made a true difference for many people and provided opportunity and pathways to their lives, and her efforts will continue to do so. Wishing you peace.

Tammy Reitter
Tammy J Reitter
May 29, 2020
Gay was a classmate at Western College for Women, and we who knew her then are so proud of her lifelong accomplishments.
Catherine Ross Loveland
May 23, 2020
Gay opened her arms to me when I arrived in Columbus 30 some years ago. Over the years I benefitted from her wisdom and advice, admired her innovative contributions to the university and the Columbus community, and shared the pleasures of CATCO performances, movies, talking about politics, and reading her poetry. She adored her family to whom I send my heartfelt sympathy.
Susan Hartmann
May 22, 2020
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