George L Gay

  • Born: August 24, 1924
  • Died: December 27, 2015
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service

2720 Muscatine Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel. (319) 338-1132

Tribute & Message From The Family

George L. Gay, 91 lifelong resident of Iowa City and longtime businessman died Sunday, December 27, 2015, at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City.

Funeral services will be held at 11 am Thursday, December 31, 2015, at the First Christian Church in Coralville, with graveside services at the Oakland Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 pm Wednesday at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service where a Masonic Memorial Service will be held at 7pm. Memorial donations can be made in George's memory to the First Christian Church. Online condolences may be sent for George's family through the funeral home website @

George Lake Gay was born August 24, 1924, in Iowa City the son of George Robert and Helen (Lake) Gay. He attended Iowa City Schools, graduating from City High School with the class of 1942. Then attended the University of Iowa. During WWII George served in the United States Navy. George was united in marriage to Kathrynn Ann (Katie) Murphy on September 1, 1946. Returning to Iowa City he joined the family business, the Gay Locker Company, where he worked until enrolling at the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, at the age of 40. Graduating from here as Class Salutatorian, he and his wife, Katie purchased the former Oathout Funeral Home in Iowa City. This began his career as a funeral director and owner of the George L. Gay Funeral Home, a career that spanned many years in the Iowa City area, caring for thousands of families.

George believed in giving back to his community, church and profession. This was obvious in all the various groups, organizations, community functions, that he was involved with throughout his lifetime. These include, his church, First Christian Church; his profession, Iowa Funeral Directors Association (Past President) and the National Funeral Directors Association; former member of the Iowa City School Board, Iowa City Chamber of Commerce, Ecumenical Towers Organization, University of Iowa School of Religion, and DeMolay; active member of the Noon Rotary Club, Johnson County I-Club, New Horizons Senior Band, Rio-Grande Valley Concert Band (Mission, TX) Men-of Achord (Mission, TX), IOOF, Rebekah Lodge, O.E.S., White Shrine, Knight of Pythias, Eagles Lodge, Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, the William Reynolds Lodge #667 of the Masonic Order and KAABA Shrine.

His family includes his children, Anita Gay Hartwig (Kevin Hartwig) of Iowa City; George Edward "Ted" Gay (Patti) of North Richland Hills, TX; grandchildren, Kory Hartwig, Kerri Hartwig, Victoria Gay, Diana Kirkwood (Matt), and William Gay; two great-grandsons, Jaiden Feedee and Casen Kirkwood; brothers, Charles Gay of Iowa City and Robert Gay (Jeannine) of Philoimath, OR; sister-in-law, Marilou Gay of Iowa City; and fiancé, Suzie Oliver of Iowa City.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Katie; sister, Dorothy Adamson; brother, Richard Gay; sister, Anna Gay; and sister-in-law, Dorothy Gay.


Condolence & Memory Journal

KLU630 - thanks George

Posted by A friend   September 10, 2016

In my Senior year at Iowa, '69-'70, I had the privilege of living at the funeral home in return for running ambulance calls and helping with funeral services. George was like a father to me during this time, always friendly and kind, willing to help with anything. I always admired the sincere compassion that he extended to each family of the deceased in their time of grief. I cherish those memories of George and offer my condolences to Anita and Ted. Rest in Peace, my friend, you were a good man.

Posted by Ken Elliott - Ocoee, FL   February 11, 2016

I work at the barber shop in Mission I asked him for one of his wooden plaques of Jesus. I will always see his smiling face when I think of George

Posted by Irma Cardenas - Mission, TX   January 13, 2016

I was stunned to hear of the passing of George. He was a dear friend and brother and was so actively involved in all areas of Masonic movement and his own community as well. Due to the illness of my wife Barbara and her passing, I was unaware of the tragic news of George's passing. I wish to extend my most sincere sympathy to the family of George and God Bless you all in the days and years ahead. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Posted by Berdette Bryngelson - Marshalltown, IA - friend and Masonic brother   January 05, 2016

So sorry to hear the news. Seems as though I just saw George at Rotary. We are out of state and will miss the services for a really nice man.
Gary and Nancy Pacha

Posted by A friend   January 01, 2016

Anita, Ted and families, you have our condolences.
Sara Murphy & Sibs

Posted by Sara Murphy - Long Grove, IL   January 01, 2016

With the sadness, we hope for the best in 2016. Our grievances in the loss of Uncle George.

Jeff, Sanae, and Kenta Gay
Yokohama, JAPAN

Posted by Jeffrey Allen Gay and Family - Yokohama Japan - Nephew   January 01, 2016

George eas a wonderful person and our thouhts and prayers are with the family. Rodney & Kathy DeGroot

Posted by A friend   January 01, 2016

Our sympathy to George's family with his passing. He served our funeral profession very well, with passion to the families he served and also with kindest to our state association. He was always nice to talk with at association conventions. Your family are in our thoughts and our prayers. Ric and Cynthia Porter

Posted by Ric Porter - Hawarden, IA - Fellow Fuenral Director   December 31, 2015

My sincerest condolences to the Gay Family. George and I were friends through various Masonic organizations that we were both a part of. He was just an all around great guy and a great Mason. He was one of the most enthusiastic and positive people that I have ever had the fortune to meet. Always upbeat and helping others. Iowa Freemasonry has lost a pillar with the passing of George Gay. He was a tireless worker for the teachings of our fraternity. Rest well my friend and brother. Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Posted by Wade E. Sheeler - Newton, IA - friend   December 31, 2015

To the Family of George Gay
All the members of the Magic Valley Men-of-Achord will miss George. He enjoyed singing and helping the chorus in any way he could.
Aside from the chorus, he enjoyed giving of himself and making things for others, especially his grandchildren.
Myself, living only a few houses from the woodshop in Aladdin Villas, I would often see George's van there early in the morning. He would be working on a wood project to give to a friend or family member.
I also remember him doing a big stained glass project for his church here in the valley. George will be remembered for years to come for the kindness he has shown to others.
In loving memory from the Men-of-Achord
Jerry Boman, President

Posted by Jerry Boman - Mission, TX - friend   December 30, 2015

Thank you, RWQeGGeorge and Katie, for your years of friendship and for
all you have given to the community. You were special to all of us.

Posted by Bob and Bonnie Sierk - Phoenix, AZ - Friends   December 30, 2015

to Uncle George: One of the warmest hearted and giving person we had the pleasure of knowing. Loving memories, Brian Gay Family, Springfield OR

Posted by A friend   December 30, 2015

George was a awesome man. We use to bowl in the same league. You will all be in our prayers. God Bless

Posted by Daniel and Donna Hayslett - Iowa City, IA - friend   December 30, 2015


George was a valuable member of our concert band and we have missed him.
A good musician and always had a friendly smile for everyone. My sympathy to his family and friends. I know he is with his Katie now and that is wonderful.

Posted by Cathy Bailey - Pharr, TX - oboe, RGV Band, Texas   December 30, 2015

George was an asset to Aladdin Villa and will be missed. We extend our sympathy to his family and friends.

Posted by The Kuchenbeckers - Rapid City, SD   December 30, 2015

Anita & family, So sorry for your loss. Your father was so active in our community. It seemed like he was everywhere. Cherish your memories & God bless you and yours!

Posted by Kathy (Williams) Wyatt-Hanes - Iowa City, IA - Friend of Anita   December 30, 2015

We are so sorry to hear of George's passing. He was a wonderful man and he will be sorely missed in the community and his church and most of all his family. We have fond memories of when our daughter was about 3 years old he came to the house as Santa on Christmas morning and brought her a real kitty and she was so surprised.. What a great man! he was.

Posted by Robert & Lorrie Niman - Iowa City, IA - friends of Kevin and Anita   December 30, 2015

We were so sorry to hear about George!
You all are in are thoughts and prayers
He had so many friends here in Aladdin Villas and Mission.
He will be greatly missed!

Don and Helen Reinhardt

Posted by Don and Helen Reinhardt - Mission, TX   December 30, 2015

George was a wonderful Christian man who was honored with the distinction of Elder Emeritus by First Christian Church, Coralville, Iowa. We all knew and loved him as a sunny, cheerful, and kind man. I will miss him dearly and think of him every time I enjoy a peppermint lifesaver!! Rest in Peace, George. You deserve it!

Posted by Carol Mertens - North Liberty, IA - Friend   December 30, 2015

George was a wonderful pillar of the Iowa City the time of my mother's death he was a great help to me in dealing with my father...the Iowa City community will be missing a great friend and business person.

Posted by Sara Sherlock - Iowa City, IA - friend   December 29, 2015


may the family find peace and hapoyness

Posted by nathaniel moreno - mission, TX   December 29, 2015

I am so sorry to hear of George's passing. I am thinking of you all.

Posted by Kathy Lance Stepp - Iowa City, IA - friend   December 29, 2015

George was a kind and dignified man. He was supportive and encouraging to me as a young man in the funeral business. As a fellow Past I.F.D.A. President, I was honored to have his friendship. He was a good man and one of many mentors in my career.

Posted by Dan Fisher - West Des Moines, IA - Fellow funeral director   December 29, 2015

Anita, so sorry for your loss. He was such a vibrant man with so many talents. Will really miss him.

Posted by Peggy Miller - Alamo, TX   December 29, 2015


I met George briefly and what a sweet brave man. Blessings to all of George's family.

Posted by Betty Goff - Iowa city, IA   December 29, 2015

My sympathy to George`s Family. I knew him for many years while in the funeral business
with my family.
Yours, John A. Kuba
Podivin,Czech Republic

Posted by John A. Kuba - Podivin, Czech Republic Eur, IA - friend   December 28, 2015

I would like to give my heart felt sympathy to the Gay family from my family. George was a good man a lived a joyful life. He was fun to be around with at lodge and very knowledgeable, if you were having trouble with something in lodge he was right there to help you out. He will be dearly missed at Clarksville Lodge #668. God Bless.

Posted by Howard Dean & Family - Iowa City, IA - Friend & Masonic Brother   December 28, 2015

A piece of our heart is missing due to this message of George's death. He was a great friend. Gary and I so enjoyed the many times we played bridge at his home and all the many wonderful things he did for our church. So many people were blessed by being George's friend. I'm know he will be deeply missed by everyone.

Posted by Vanita Johnson - Iowa city, IA - Church and family friend   December 28, 2015

My deepest sympathy to the Gay family. He shall be missed by many. George touched the lives of many including mine.

Posted by Neil Peck - Sioux City, IA - Friend   December 28, 2015

Family Album

George and Grandma Nettie in the Lake family home on Fairchild Street in Iowa City

Life Stories

George was a cousin to my grandpa Howard Berry. Growing up, I knew George only through his work at the funeral home. When my sister and I bought what was his mother’s childhood home on Fairchild Street in Iowa City in 2002, a small photo album came with the purchase. In that album were a few pictures of George. I was quite taken with one of these—an old black-and-white showing George as a young man with his grandma (my great-great grandma) Nettie Lake. In the picture, George and Grandma Lake are in the kitchen—the kitchen that I use today. George is forking meat onto a platter that Grandma holds. The two have genuine smiles on their faces. I’m sure George’s attire has something to do with those smiles. Over George’s white collared shirt and necktie is a small ruffled floral-print apron, likely one of Grandma Lake’s or Aunt Doris's that he just happened to throw on for the occasion! After studying this picture, I was sure George was a helpful, caring, and lighthearted guy who enjoyed time with family.

I had the great pleasure to discover that George indeed did possess these wonderful qualities when he invited me, my aunt Linda, and Linda’s fiancé, Stan, to his house in November. In his 91st year, George visited enthusiastically with us, talking about his past professions, family members that I never met, as well as his upcoming plans to travel to Texas for the winter. He graciously gave us a tour of his neat home, which, on that day, was bathed in yellow light from the autumn canopy outside the house. He showed us his artwork—stained glass, ceramic figurines, candle holders—and even opened his bedroom closet to show us how tidy he kept his belongings. George’s daughter, Anita, followed behind, turning off lights as we exited one room and then another. “Are you getting the lights?” George called back to Anita.

George was so full of life and vigor that day. And we were all excited to make plans for some family heirlooms to return to the Lake house—my home on Fairchild Street. George agreed to visit the old house next spring when he returned to Iowa to see how the space had changed and—for the most part—had not changed. I let him know I was very fond of the house and its antique charm. He seemed pleased.

I do regret that George will not be able to visit my home, our family’s home, after all. Our time, unfortunately, started late and was cut too short. I do know that the Lake house on Fairchild Street will continue to carry George's spirit with it as well as those of our ancestors and the many memories they made. More than anything, I’m grateful to have learned a bit more about the handsome young man in the pretty floral apron who once stood in my kitchen.