Floral 11

Frances Lucille (Moles) Gay

October 4, 1923 ~ January 7, 2022 (age 98)


Frances Lucille (Moles) Gay was born at home on October 4, 1923 in Hillsboro, Alabama. She grew up on a family farm that grew predominantly cotton. Her father was Howard Emmett Moles, her mother, Fannie Louise (Grady) Moles. She lost her mother in 1935 from tuberculosis. From an early age she appreciated nice clothes. She often shared the emotional story of her father buying for her her first store-bought dress, in her late teens. Her father was the choir director for Sulphur Springs Baptist Church in Hillsboro, and created the Sulphur Springs Quartet, a women’s quartet of which Frances was a member. They performed in many county-wide singing events in the early 1940s, and were broadcast on live radio at least once. She said their mail carrier was a big fan. She graduated from Moulton High School in 1943 having fallen in love with her future husband, Walter Gay, while in high school.

During World War II, while Walter was in the army in the European front, Frances worked for Bell South Telephone as a switchboard operator. Because of the war and the shortage of workers she was asked to travel as needed to fill switchboard needs in southern cities. These included Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida. She’s always spoken fondly of those years and the women with whom she worked. After the war Frances and Walter were reunited and married. This began another period of travel for them as they traveled with Walter’s work on infrastructure projects across the Midwest and Eastern United States from 1946 through 1954. At the end of ’54 they settled in Pontiac, Michigan with their first home purchase. Frances went to work with Walter in the family construction business in 1960 as office manager. She and Walter raised five children until Walter’s death in 1968 from a construction accident. A sixth child, Barry Gerard Gay, died at birth in May of 1951. Upon the death of Walter, Frances managed the construction business until all current projects were completed and the business was liquidated in 1970. This in itself was a monumental achievement especially given the strong male culture of underground construction work.

Frances went on to raise the four minor children and manage the family home, while never remarrying.  A close friend and long-time companion, Bob Hengel, introduced her to snow skiing while in her 50s. She and  Bob skied every weekday for twenty-five years when snow and weather permitted.

Frances loved life as much as anyone and she passed that on to all of her family and people she was close to. Walter T. Gay, Jr. was the love of her life. Together they came further than either had probably imagined from their humble beginnings, through the Great Depression and World War II. The home they built on Pine Lake in 1966 has been a wonderful home for all of us and a continuous connection to Walter. She loved her children and grandchildren, family, above all else. Her passions were yard work, especially roses, and watching wildlife. She loved all animals, over the years having dogs and cats that she was so fond of. She always took great pride in her appearance and loved nice clothes and being tastefully dressed and groomed. She never ceased getting compliments about her beautiful white hair that started turning in her early thirties, as was the case with all of her siblings.

She will be remembered for her amazing business acumen, self-confidence, generosity, her great mothering skills in providing a secure and consistent home life that made all the difference in the lives of her children. Her belief in self-improvement and education, making the public library an important part of her children’s lives, and always having books in the house, was a constant inspiration. Her daily meals were always delicious (and she passed those cooking skills along) and her holiday meals with familiar recurring recipes will stay with us forever. Perhaps above all else she will be remembered for her resiliency and her ability to be loving and accepting with the right words in difficult times.

Frances is preceded in death by her brother Emmett Moles, her sisters Mildred Brewer and Dorothy Coffey. She is survived by her children Cheri Gay (Giancarlo Castillo), Rodney (Laura) Gay, Ronald Gay, Michelle (Robert) Fields, Tammy (Randy) Johnson; grandchildren, Christopher (Kelley) Johnson, Kelly (Nate) Pabon, Devon Fields, Lea Fields; great grandson, Argus Pabon and several nieces and nephews.

Services are Saturday, January 15, 2022 New Beginnings Baptist Church, 7325 Maceday Lake Road, Waterford, Michigan. Visitation is at 10:00 a.m., service at 11:00, burial immediately following at Ottawa Park Cemetery, 6180 Dixie Hwy., Clarkston, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Wounded Warriors Project / woundedwarriorsproject.org

To send flowers to Frances' family, please visit our floral store.


January 15, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
New Beginning Baptist Church
7325 Maceday Lake Road
Waterford, MI 48328

Funeral Service
January 15, 2022

11:00 AM
New Beginning Baptist Church
7325 Maceday Lake Road
Waterford, MI 48328


Wounded Warrior Project
7020 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville FL 32256
Tel: 1-877-832-6997
Web: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

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