Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bob Gay was ‘Regina’s downtown chaplain’: RIP

By Will Chabun
July 19, 2011

REGINA -- One of the best-known fixtures of downtown Regina has died after a long career helping and defending the area’s downtrodden.

Rev. Bob Gay, known for decades as “Regina’s downtown chaplain”, died Monday of natural causes, colleague Rev. Bob Kitchen of Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

Kitchen said Gay was raised in Oshawa and studied at what’s now Emmanuel College, the United Church federated college at the University of Toronto.

Gay was posted as a young minister to Kipling, where he charmed by the prairie.

After about three years there, he took a post in suburban Calgary, but he came to Regina in the late 1960s and soon found a post as a special downtown chaplain working out of “Knox-Met” and financed by downtown United Church, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.

A 1973 Leader-Post profile noted that Gay, then 41, had also worked as a part-time jail chaplain and a student in church social work — good training for a man working to bring social justice and old-fashioned help to the poor of the city’s downtown core.

Other clippings show that he pursued his work by sitting on the boards of groups like the city’s planning commission, the Regina branch of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights and the nonprofit Regina Low-Income Housing Corp. He spokes widely on the realities of day-to-day life in the downtown area.

“To a certain extent, he was a lone ranger, but he drew on a lot of different people,” said Kitchen.

He added that Gay retired around the mid-1990s, but continued to be a familiar face around what was by then called the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry. “He kept his nose out of their business, but they always asked for help from him,” Kitchen said.

A memorial service is to be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

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