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Helen Parker Gay, 96, entered into eternal rest on Sunday, December 25, 2016 in her hometown of Rocky Mount, NC.


Helen was born in Rocky Mount to Frank Leslie Parker Sr. and Dillie Virginia Shaw Parker on March 14, 1920.  She was educated in the Rocky Mount City School system. After graduating high school, she attended and graduated from Barbra-Scotia College in 1939.  She also attended State College (now North Carolina State University). She worked for the Employment Security Commission for 37 years where she received two merit awards. She was a board member of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a member of the N.C. Energy Policy Council, past president of the N.C. Black Elected Officials and a former board member of the N.C. League of Municipalities. She also served as an elder of Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church. She was a member of the Rocky Mount Moles Inc. and the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Beta Zeta Chapter


Helen was the first African American woman elected to the Rocky Mount City Council where she served for 20 years. She also served as Mayor Pro Tem four times. During her time on the council, she was instrumental in key downtown revitalization projects, including the restoration of the Rocky Mount train station, which was named the Helen P. Gay Historic Train Station in her honor.


Helen received numerous merit and service awards, including the 1997 Outstanding Woman and 1998 Phenomenal Woman Awards from the N.C. Business and Professional Women’s Club. She received the January 1999 Service to Humanity Award from the Rocky Mount Human Relations Commission. She was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame for Edgecombe and Nash Counties, and was awarded one of the state’s highest orders, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Mike Easley. She was also selected as one of the women of the new tribe.


Helen had one son, Leslie C. Gay who preceded her in death.


Helen leaves to cherish her memory three sisters: Fatina Gaston of Rocky Mount, Elsie Blackwell of Queens, NY, and Marie Robinette (Gene) of Long Island, NY; two sisters-in-law: Mae Parker and Lillian Parker; daughter-in-law: Julia Gay; two grandchildren: L. Bryan Gay (Patrice) and Jason Gay (Shannon); four great-grandchildren:  Stephanie Dean, Yoel Taylor-Gay, Mya Gay, and Xavier Gay, along with a host of nieces, nephews, other family members, and friends too numerous to name.


A wake will be held from 6-8pm on December 30th at Mt Pisgah Presbyterian Church located at

614 Goldleaf Street, Rocky Mount, NC.


Funeral services will be held at 11am on December 31st at Morningstar Church of Christ located at 225 S. Glendale Drive, Rocky Mount, NC.   Burial will follow at Northeastern Cemetery. 

Helen Gay
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  • Wednesday, December 28, 2016
    The staff at CE Willie Funeral & Cremation Services will continue to keep you and your loved one in our prayers.
    ~ CE Willie Funeral & Cremation Services
  • Wednesday, December 28, 2016
    A Comforting Message . . . . . "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." - The gospel of Matthew 5:4 (The Beatitudes, New Testament Reading, King James Version.) Question, "Who can find a virtuous woman?" Answer, Helen Gay. A special lady and a "trailblazer" for the city of Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County. She will be missed by all who knew her. As we pause to thank God for the wonderful life and longevity of Sister Helen Gay, let us not forget that tender promise of Christ when He said, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord , the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." - II Timothy 4:6-8. With sympathy, Edgecombe County Sheriff James L. Knight and Staff
    ~ Office of the Sheriff   Edgecombe County
  • Wednesday, December 28, 2016
    Our hearts are sadden by the passing of Mrs. Gay. She touched so many lives and will be greatly missed.
    ~ Ray and Earnestine Battle   Rocky Mount, NC
  • Friday, December 30, 2016
    I wish to express my sympathy to the family of Mrs. Helen Parker Gay. Please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many as you deal with the loss of your loved one. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Gay when I was elected to the Clayton, N.C. Town Council in 1983. I served until 1991. Mrs. Gay was very active in the N.C. League of Municipalities, Electri-Cities of N.C. and the Black Elected Municipal Officials of N.C. She was like a mentor to me and was always very pleasant to be around. She was always concerned about the less fortunate people and worked to make a difference in her community and state. I shall always cherish her memory.
    ~ Nathaniel L. Sanders, Jr.   Clayton, NC
  • Thursday, December 29, 2016
    Love and Prayers from the Davia Family.
    ~ Davis Family   Rocky Mount,, NC