MARIETTA, Ga. — “I really have had a good, good life,” said Tess Gay on Sept. 14 as friends and relatives stopped by her Marietta home to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Gay held court from her comfy living room chair wrapped in a golden boa with a matching crown with the number 100 on top. Each time a new loved one entered, she smiled big and welcomed them with a hug. Guests milled about, munched on hors d’oeuvres and posed for selfies with the new centenarian.
Gay is the widow of George Gay, a Navy pilot and decorated hero of the Battle of Midway.
Tess Gay grew up outside Washington, D.C., in a military family. She said she had a pleasant childhood growing up on a naval base where she was insulated from the nation’s financial troubles.
“We didn’t feel the Depression as much as most people,” she said. “We didn’t feel it so much because we lived on a naval base and everything was taken care for you there.”
After graduating high school, Gay stayed in the D.C. area to attend college at Strayer University, which was at the time called Strayer’s Business College, in Herndon, Virginia.
She said her life changed once the U.S. entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I was stunned,” she said. “A friend of mine’s husband was called to serve right after Pearl Harbor. They rounded up all the Japanese. It was pretty frightening, and she didn’t see her husband for three days when they were out doing the Japanese round-ups, which I felt were very unfair at the time, because many of them were very innocent.”