Dennis Wayne Gay passed away on January 5, 2018 in Newport Beach, California, a state he had a great affinity for, next to the Pacific Ocean that he loved to walk beside. He left peacefully, surrounded by his children, as well as his beloved wife and true companion, Gay.
Dennis was born in 1946 and raised in the most humble circumstances in Coushatta, Louisiana. He grew up in a shack of a home with eight people and only an outhouse. In 1961, when he was 15, his family moved from Louisiana to Payson, Utah, where his parents, Bryant and Elaine Gay, purchased the Polar King restaurant in Springville, Utah. They grew Polar King into a beloved restaurant and were the inspiration for Dennis' incredible work ethic. Dennis attended Payson High School, where he loved sports and played on the basketball and football teams. During this time he fell deeply in love with something that many might consider the longest love affair of his life: cars.
Dennis was a car guy. If you aren't a car guy then you just don't get that. If you are, then you do, and Dennis loved every aspect of them: their designs, mechanics, smells, sounds. It was this love that led him to the mechanical engineering program at Brigham Young University.
Dennis had a younger brother named Alvin who served in the Vietnam War. He was a helicopter gunner, and on April 1st, 1969, while rescuing fellow soldiers, Alvin was shot and killed. Dennis was heartbroken, and he loved and cared for Alvin's son Troy Gay throughout his life. Troy said at Dennis's passing, "Dennis was the man I trusted most in life." Dennis is now reunited with his kid brother.
After graduating from Brigham Young University, Dennis accepted a position with McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California designing and building aircraft carriers for the U.S. military. It was then that he fell for the peaceful, sunny, warm, Orange County coastline. He would ride his bike on the streets of Corona Del Mar, dreaming about living there one day. And indeed, he did. Dennis always believed you could make your own dreams come true, and he never stopped until he achieved his dreams.
Dennis and the wife of his youth, Sherry Hiatt, had five tremendous children. Three daughters, Gina (McKay) Daines, Kimm Humpherys, Haley (Tony) Blackett, and two sons, Bodee (Amber) Gay and Bucky (Kristy) Gay. From these children sprang 13 grandchildren who all love their grandfather deeply.
He began his long and successful entrepreneurial career at age 30 buying Schwartz Lumber Land in Payson, Utah in 1977. Many ups and downs in business lead him to a love of real estate, and he became increasingly successful building many government buildings around Utah.
Dennis married Gay Madsen Phillips in 1990 and they were sealed in the Provo LDS Temple. Their union became one of the greatest examples ever of love and support and caring. As the years have rolled by it's become impossible not to think of them always together. They were a team, a real team, and an extraordinary companionship that lifted and buoyed each other, and nurtured and supported each other and their combined families.
Gay had four wonderful children she brought into Dennis's life, Pam (Kevin) Hanks, Todd (Jill) Phillips, Joe (Jolene) Phillips and Lori (Jeff) Hansen. Their families gave Dennis and Gay another 17 grandchildren.
Dennis lent office space to an expert in herbal research and formulating who asked him for business advice. In 1992, this lead to the launch of Basic Research, a Utah company that has successfully sold health and beauty products in over 50 countries around the world and employed thousands of people over the years. Dennis often said that one of things he loved most about Basic Research is that it provided the means to support so many families.
Dennis was a man of sharp intellect who could calculate and ascertain a problem, challenge, or opportunity with remarkable clarity. He was also a man of questions; his engineering mind required him to seek to find answers. Anyone who knew him knew this unique aspect of his personality and how effective it was in always keeping things moving forward. Dennis created, was always on the move, always fixing something, working on something, in constant thought or action to get things done. His actions, hard and driven work ethic and energy blessed more people's lives than anyone really knows. There are undoubtedly thousands of people who owe their livelihood, successes, survival and prosperity directly to the ability of Dennis to study, design, create and implement.
One of the greatest highpoints in Dennis' life was serving for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as Branch President at the Wasatch Youth Correctional Facility. With Gay by his side, they reached out to many troubled youth with open hearts and all the resources at their disposal to help these young people move forward to a better life. Dennis and his great friend Gary Kehl created the blueprint for the State of Utah to partner with the LDS church in giving numerous troubled youth a second chance so they didn't end up back in the system. That blue print is still being used today.
In 2014 Dennis was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a scarring of the lungs that takes away the lungs' capacity to fill with oxygen. It is a brutal diagnosis, but Dennis was born and lived as a fighter and did not go down without a fight, a fact that everyone will always admire him for.
Dennis was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where he held several positions including branch president, a member of the bishopric and gospel doctrine teacher. He leaves behind an enormous flock: His beloved eternal companion Gay Madsen Gay, 9 kids, 30 grandkids and 8 great grandkids as well as countless friends and associates who were family to him. Dennis was a great caretaker, a guardian, and a true patriarch. All of us who love him know with deep certainty in our hearts that he has only left this earthly sphere. We know that he will not only be with us in our hearts and thoughts and memories, but most importantly, that Dennis Gay will always watch over his flock, and we will see him again.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider organ donation.
Friends may greet his family on Sunday, January 14th from 5:00 until 7:00 PM at the Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake Center, 1830 East 6400 South. A funeral service will be held on Monday, January 15th at 10:00 AM, also at the church, where friends may visit one hour prior to the service. Private interment will be held at Springville Cemetery.