Folsom Funeral Service

Lord, Gay P.

July 18, 1935 – June 7, 2024

Gay Patterson Lord, art historian, teacher, cat lover, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, godmother, friend and expert giver of nicknames died on June 7, 2024, at her home in Westwood, MA. She died of natural causes, and a general disdain for living with Alzheimer’s. In her last week, she was surrounded by her children and many beloved, new-found friends. She died as she lived, with fierceness and determination and a certain reluctance to leave the party. Daughter of John Thomas Patterson and Virginia Rockwell Patterson, Gay was married to Charlie (“Big Guy”) Lord for 60 years and endured, even thrived, through over 10 different domestic and international moves.

Gay Dwight Patterson was born in Dayton, Ohio on July 18, 1935. She attended Oakwood Elementary School, The Madeira School (1953) and Vassar College (1957) (BA Art). She received her Master’s Degree in Art History from Harvard in 1959. After completing her advanced degree, she worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Drawings Department under Curator Jacob Bean, who was responsible for beginning the Department at the Met.

After she married Charlie Lord, at a raucous and joyous gathering in Dayton on February 22, 1964, they moved to Panama City, Panama where she had her twin sons, Thomas (TimTimBoLeen) and Charles (Chuh). They moved on to Guatemala City where she had her daughter Deirdre (SkunkyPetunia). A move back to New York City brought Gay new interests, like environmental action and belly dancing. Gay threw herself into the early environmental movement and became a founding member of Consumer Action Now (C.A.N.), a non-profit educational organization dedicated to providing information about how to live in ecologically sound ways. She was a participant in the solid waste committee.

Gay and Charlie moved again, to Toledo, Ohio, in 1975 where she began her career as an educator and taught advanced placement Art History at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Her time at Maumee Valley brought a passion for pedagogy and engagement with new friends with whom she would teach long after her time in Toledo. She demonstrated her ongoing commitment to health and the environment by packing untradeable school lunches (raw peanut butter on “Sunny Honey” bread) for her 3 children. She also had the temerity to lead her sons’ 7th and 8th grade class in a belly dancing demonstration during the school’s Middle Eastern Day.

After 3 years in Toledo, Charlie’s position as Headmaster of Saint Timothy’s School took the family to Stevenson, MD. Gay once again taught Advanced Placement Art History at St. Tim’s and served for a time as an Admissions Officer at the School. During their tenure at St. Tim’s, Charlie and Gay provided loving guidance to countless young students who needed the extra love of the supportive pair. In addition, Gay was appointed to the Board of Trustees of The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT. As a Trustee, she worked with other Trustees and Administrators to support the establishment of the school’s first day care center for faculty and staff families. She also co-chaired the Hotchkiss Centennial Celebration.

Upon the conclusion of their tenure at St.Timothy’s, Charlie and Gay moved to St. Andrews, Scotland, where Gay curated an exhibit of Scottish architect Sir Robert (“Uncle Bobby”, no relation) Lorimer’s work. Once again, Charlie and Gay made new and lasting friendships in St. Andrews. Gay also developed an enduring passion for Fairy Liquid “washing up” soap.

After their year in Scotland, Charlie and Gay returned to Washington, DC where Gay became the Art History teacher at Sidwell Friends School (1987 to 1998) and ran The Rubenstein Art Gallery there for some time. Upon hiring Gay, former head of Sidwell Friends, Earl Harrison, called her “an absolutely superb classroom teacher”.

Gay retired from teaching in 1998 but continued pursuing her various passions: she and Charlie traveled, she researched and explored art and art history, she wrote a memoir (The Heart Lives by Breaking), she continued to develop new friendships and cultivate the other lifelong connections she had. Gay and Charlie moved twice more, back to New York and ultimately to Fox Hill Village in Westwood, MA.

Gay was a lifelong learner and a devoted friend. Gay is predeceased by her grandchildren, Cameron and Hayden, her husband, Charlie, and her cat, Tiger. She is survived by her children, Tim (Alison) Lord, Charlie (Blyth) Lord, Deirdre (Alexander Wright) Lord, her brother John Thomas Patterson (Sharon), her 5 beloved grandchildren, Taylor Lord, Annie Lord, Eliza Lord, Mary Lord and Charlie Wright and her cat, Lily (sister to Tiger). She will always be remembered and celebrated for her giggle, her goofy expressions (“harsh tote”, “fish pump”, “gofrit”), her ability to laugh at and with herself, her intellectual curiosity, passion for books and ideas, and her deep love for family and friends. Fly free G Bird Lord.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate in Gay’s name to Good Shepherd Community Care in Massachusetts, or the Siasconset Union Chapel in Siasconset, MA.

Guestbook Entries

  1. Poppy Holmes
    June 18th, 2024 | 5:39 pm

    Thank you so much for letting her friends see the wonderful story of Gay’s so meaningful life.

  2. Abigail Adams Manny
    June 19th, 2024 | 11:37 am

    So many incredible memories of “Auntie Gay-Gay”. Hugs to Charlie, Tim, Deidre and all the clan from “Auntie Abs”.

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Folsom Funeral Service

Folsom Funeral Service