Thelma M. Gay

Thelma M. Gay, age 98, of Briggsville, passed away surrounded by her loving family on Sunday, February 14, at Tivoli in Portage.

Thelma was born in February, 1923, on the family farm in rural Marquette county on what her father always told her was the coldest, stormiest day he could ever remember.  She was the daughter of Alfred and Marion (Brancel) Parrott.  Thelma was raised on that farm with her very lively and fun-loving brothers and sisters.  Oh what stories they all told!

Thelma started college at a young age, but in 1942 she and Elwyn Gay, her fiancé, decided they were too lonely apart when Thelma was away at college so they married and started their life together.  She was an active member of her church, the Rebecca Lodge, and Homemakers Club.  Throughout the following years she helped her girls with many 4-H projects and numerous school activities.  While still raising her four daughters and helping on the farm, Thelma went back to college to finish her degree.  To help pay for her daughter’s college degrees, she then started teaching in the Portage School District, where she taught for over 20 years.

Upon retirement, Thelma and Elwyn liked to travel and became ‘snow birds’ in the southwest.  Here Thelma enjoyed hiking in the deserts and mountains, visiting with family and friends and participating in the many classes and activities offered in their community.  Always very artistic, and with a great love for music and art, it was here that Thelma started oil painting.  Her pictures are still being enjoyed today by numerous family members and friends.

Thelma was an incredible woman – loving, kind, dignified and elegant.  She is survived by her children, Jeanette Backhaus, Wisconsin Dells, Dorothy (Dan) Ferguson, Clinton Twp., Michigan, Peg (Gene) Hamele, Ft. Atkinson, and Sue (Jim) Meilahn, Placitas, New Mexico; nine grandchildren; eighteen great-grandchildren; other relatives and many friends.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her step-mother, Nellie, her husband Elwyn, her son-in-law, Tom Backhaus and her seven siblings.

Memorial services will be at a later date at Briggsville United Methodist Church.  Inurnment will be in Briggsville Protestant Cemetery.

The Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.

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