Gay Neill Benefield

Former Brady resident Gay Neill Benefield died peacefully during her morning nap on January 27, 2002 in Amarillo. She was 101. Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30 at Live Oak Cemetery in Brady, Texas, with Larry Barber presiding. Arrangements are under the direction of Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors in Amarillo. Gay was born in Gorman, Texas on December 26, 1900, the tenth child of Nancy Hones and John Thomas Neill. After graduating from Gorman High School, she attended Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth. On November 6, 1920, Gay married Malcolm Jefferson Benefield, who later became the manager of the Chambers of Commerce in Brady and Odessa. While raising her three children in Brady, she supported her husband’s many civic activities and served as the Gallup Poll representative for the region. Her Gallup polling assignments were on topics ranging from politics and railroads to socialized medicine. After the unexpected death of her husband in 1948, Gay became Odessa’s Welcome Wagon Hostess. For 12 years she welcomed Odessa newcomers with gifts and information and founded an Odessa Newcomers Club. In 1952 she was named First Lady in Odessa, a yearly honor bestowed on a woman for her outstanding work for the betterment of Odessa. In the 1950s she became certified as a Master Goren Bridge Teacher, and she taught hundreds of Odessans to play bridge in small group classes. She continued to teach bridge until she was 80 years old, and bridge-playing led to many wonderful relationships with a large group of very special Odessa women. She was a lifelong member of the Methodist church. In 1995 Gay authored an autobiographical book, “The 20th Century as I’ve Lived It,” which describes her life, experiences during the Depression and two world wars, and the many technological advances she saw during her lifetime. Thanks to the help of good friends and neighbors, Gay was able to live on her own in her Odessa home until the age of 96. In recent years she received very special care at Sears Methodist Retirement System facilities in Amarillo and Abilene. She was preceded in death by her husband, 10 brothers and sisters, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Survivors include her children, June Benefield Hinckley and her husband Kenneth of Austin; Malcolm Jefferson Benefield and his wife Peggy of Amarillo; and Jack Benefield of Abilene; as well as seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews. Gifts in her memory may be made to Sears Methodist Foundation, 3233 South Willis, Abilene, Texas 79605.

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