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(Ellen) Gay Goodpaster Davis Hammer, age 82, passed away in the care of Hospice on December 23, 2021, in Grand Junction, Colorado, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.
Born on August 12, 1939, Gay was the daughter of the late Clarence Goodpaster and Edna Goodpaster Sanders, in Lexington, Kentucky. Gay graduated from Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky, and attended Anderson College in Illinois.
As a young woman she was inspired by the civil rights movement and marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. during his visits to Kentucky in the late 1950s. A one-time meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt, also cast an indelible mark on her life’s purpose and direction.
In 1960 she married Harry Thomas (Tom) Davis, Jr. After the birth of their son, Michael, the family moved west to Denver, Colorado, and also lived for a short time in Montana. In 1967 they moved to Boise, Idaho, where daughter Linda was born.
Shortly afterward, Gay began the adventure of her lifetime by serving as the project coordinator for an ambitious new public lands project, known as the Boise River Greenbelt. Gay fondly told the story of the Greenbelt committee’s first, harrowing effort to buy land along the river. As they surveyed the area, Gay and her cohort were confronted at gunpoint by an angry landowner, who swore there would never be a greenbelt on his land. Ultimately, that stretch of land became the first part of a 25-mile long pedestrian and bike pathway along the Boise River. Gay was pleased to attend the 50th Anniversary of the Greenbelt project in 2019, and was recognized as one of the founding pioneers of Boise’s crown jewel.
After her service on the Greenbelt project, Gay worked with Cecil Andrus when he served as Idaho’s Governor and later U.S. Interior Secretary. In 1974 Gay met and married Jan Hammer, and she gained four more children with Julie, Christopher, Angela, and Gregory. After moving away from Idaho, Gay operated her own marketing and public relations business in several states, including Washington, California, and Colorado.
In 1996, Gay was asked to help fundraise for and launch a new PBS television station, KRMJ, in Grand Junction, Colorado. Afterwards she served as the station’s first general manager. Under her leadership, KRMJ developed new local public television content and established strong community partnerships with Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) and other local education-focused groups.
After retiring, Gay continued her public activism, serving as an advisor to many political candidates and interest groups. Gay’s passion for literacy, children’s issues, and community health, kept her active until the last few months of her life.
Gay was preceded in death by her parents Clarence Goodpaster and Edna Sanders; step-mother Ruth Goodpaster; and brother Doug Goodpaster.
Survivors include her husband Jan Hammer; son, Michael (Julie) Davis of Marysville, Washington; daughter, Linda (Don) Bowman of Grand Junction, Colorado; stepchildren Julie McCutcheon of Missouri City, Texas; Angela Montano of Westminster, California; Christopher (Jessica) Hammer of Boise, Idaho; and Gregory (Li Hong Ping) Hammer of China. Grandchildren Tia Norman of Missouri City, Texas; Timothy (Amber) Davis of Dracut, Massachusetts; Lisa (Rudy) Franco of Arlington, Washington; Jennifer (Nate) Taylor of Boise, Idaho; John Hammer of Boise, Idaho; Delaney Hammer of Boise, Idaho; Sidney Dietrich of Boise, Idaho; Beth Bowman of Grand Junction, Colorado; and Hunter Montano of Westminster, California. Great-grandchildren John Norman II, Clara Ortega, Kennedy Bradford, Maya Franco, Ryan Franco, Gordon Davis, Gemma Davis, and Patrick Hammer.
No funeral services will be held. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Please consider making a memorial contribution in Gay’s name to HopeWest Hospice in Grand Junction, Colorado.
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