Mary Francis Gays

October 17, 1923 ~ January 30, 2018 (age 94)

Mary Francis Gays

 A  Celebration of Life for Mary Francis Gays, 94, will be held in New Braunsfels, Texas at a later date.  She passed at NHC of Sparta, Tennessee on January 30, 2018. The family appreciates  the loving care given to Mary by the staff at NHC Sparta.

Mary was born on October 17, 1923 in Hermleigh, Texas to Fred and Carrie Bell Russell.

She moved to Dallas in 1941 and lived in a one bedroom apartment with 9 other young ladies. She became a fashion model for Neiman Marcus and worked as a senior parts expeditor for Boeing specializing in B17 Bombers. Mary met the love of her life, Bill, on a blind date before he shipped off to fight in World War II. They married when he returned and had two sons.  Mary and Bill settled in Houston, Texas where she worked at Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School until retirement.  Mary was a loving and devoted wife and mother and will be remembered for her sweet gentle nature and sense of style.  She moved to Cookeville, Tennessee in 2010 to live with her son and daughter-in-law.

Mary is survived by her sons Gregory Gays and wife Kim of Richmond, Texas; Mark Gays and wife Elizabeth of Cookeville, Tennessee;  granddaughter Michelle Witowski and husband Paul of Houston, Texas; sister Clarice Cleghorn of Odessa, Texas; brother E.J. Russell of Big Springs, Texas; niece Shonna Schmid, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In  addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years,   William Gays and two sisters Ruby Pitts and Lois Evans.

Memorial donation in memory of Mary may be made to Dementia Society of America by mail to P.O. Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901, or online


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Thurman Funeral Home is In charge of the arrangements.


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