It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Gladys Hay (aka Nana) at the age of 91. She passed away very unexpectedly after a brief illness and hospitalization.
The following is our tribute to her life well lived.
Nana was born in Shamrock, Oklahoma as the Great Depression was just unfolding. The Dust Bowl sent her family in search of better opportunities which led to a couple of relocations, including Kansas City, Missouri.
The family eventually headed out West, taking up residence in a rented home in Golden Hill. Nana's mother opened the home as a boarding house to local defense industry workers, while her father worked for the Western Metal Supply company (and later the railroad.)
Nana often regaled us with stories of war-time San Diego: civil-defense air wardens enforcing blackout curfews; aerial-defense dirigibles dotting the skyline; the rationing of gasoline, sugar, and pantyhose; and of the patriotic Victory Gardens that could be found in almost every yard.
Nana's work ethic was formed early, as she managed a twice-daily newspaper route (no small feat pedaling the many hills in the Golden Hill area!) She attended San Diego High School but graduated from Point Loma High School (class of 1948 – Go, Pointers!) when her family moved to a home on Voltaire Street.
As a young woman in her 20's, Nana got a job with the federal government, first working at MCRD, but then eventually making a bold leap to work overseas in South Korea.
Nana never told us much about her time in Korea, but did say what fun she had there (and told us that what happens in the DMZ, stays in the DMZ!)
After meeting her future husband, they were married in a chapel at Fort Bragg, NC and soon moved overseas for his deployment in Vietnam. After the births of three daughters, the family returned to Fort Bragg and lived there for the next seven years until her husband's retirement.
Wanting to be close to family, the Hay family moved to San Diego in 1972. The unceremonious arrival left the small-town kids marveling at the big-city I-805 overpass (towering over the cow pasture in Mission Valley below.)
Widowed in 1978, Nana returned to the workforce a year later (back to civil service.) Her work ethic was such that she arrived to work hours earlier than most (she said she got more done that way!), which earned her a national merit award presented to her in Washington D.C.
Nana retired a decade later and decided to spread her wings yet again, moving to be near other relatives in Pipestone, MN. Nana became a member of Peace United Methodist Church, and loved the small Midwest town and its simpler way of life (but she wasn't so fond of the snowplow that blew snow back onto her freshly shoveled driveway after each snowstorm.)
Four winters was enough for chill-adverse Nana, and she returned back to San Diego (a wrenching decision that left her torn between her close relatives in San Diego, or her much-cherished rhubarb garden and John Deere lawn tractor in Pipestone.)
Choosing the former, she settled in Alpine. Nana loved her 'nature Nirvana', bird-filled backyard with its views of the Coronado Islands. One of the first things she did was install a flag pole to proudly fly the American flag for all to see (later to be just slightly out-shadowed by the local VFW's titan flag, its dedication ceremony which she attended in 2004.)
Nana loved to travel, and one highlight trip was to South America, where she got to see Iguazu Falls.
She was also a phenomenal seamstress, sewing wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and various home décor. In her later years she loved knitting, crafting, and cardmaking, and delighted in making custom creations for her friends and family.
Nana was a fierce patriot. She loved her country and the freedoms it stood for, and she relished anything red, white, & blue. She loved decorating her home with bunting, watching the yearly local 4th-of-July parade, and attending summer concerts featuring regional military bands.
In 2001, she became an incidental late-in-life activist for a patriotic cause and concern close to her heart. A profuse keyboard warrior and wordsmith, she sent letters to local & state officials, news media, as well as to President Bush and the Admiral of the Fleet. While her calls went unheeded, we take delight at her fighting spirit that would have made the Founding Fathers proud.
Nana was pre-deceased by her husband, Clinton B. Hay. She is survived by three daughters, five grandchildren, & one great-granddaughter.
She leaves behind a legacy of love (and an example of a life well lived with few regrets.)
To her friends in Pipestone, know that Nana loved and cherished you, and deeply appreciated the friendship you extended to her.
To her family in 'The South', Nana loved the life you were making together, and deeply yearned to one day meet Catherine in person.
To her local friends, family, and neighbors, Nana loved you all and everything you brought to her life.
So all we ask now is this: Take a moment to honor her simply, today. Listen to the birds sing, admire the beauty of a flower, or savor a glass of wine as you watch a beautiful sunset in her memory (while listening to a Glenn Miller big-band song, of course!)
She wouldn't want it any other way.
Celebrating the Life of Gladys Hay
3/15/1930 – 5/14/2021
Published by The Alpine Sun from Jun. 3 to Jun. 4, 2021.