<em>Around the world and home again<\/em>\r\n\u00a0\r\nThe view out the windows of a beautiful sunroom that overlook the mountains and the land farmed by his ancestors and, to the north, the Pocahontas County Country Club must be a bit of heaven for a West Virginia boy who loves to golf and returned home in his retirement.\r\nThat\u2019s where Jack Gay and his wife, Ellie, are these days.\r\n<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1593.web_-1.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1593.web_-1-224x300.jpg" alt="" width="224" height="300" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-15634" \/><\/a>\r\nThe road to retirement has been a long and serendipitous journey for this couple.\r\nJack was born in Buckeye in 1937, a son of Lewis and Marguerite Gay.\r\nHe graduated from Marlinton High School, received his Bachelor\u2019s in Animal Science from WVU and his Master\u2019s from the University of Kentucky.\r\nFrom there he planned to enlist in the military because he was \u201ctired of school.\u201d\r\n\u201cOut of the blue,\u201d he said he got a call from his advisor asking if he would be interested in teaching for a year at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. The college need-ed someone to teach animal science while its usual teacher was on sabbatical.\r\nJack agreed to the one year, short term contract, and it was there that he met Ellie Gibson, who was a senior at Berea that year.\r\nThe two became engaged, and married in 1962.\r\nAgain, \u201cout of the blue,\u201d Jack received a call asking him to be involved in a 2,500 acre experimental station project at Auburn University in Alabama, and the couple began their married life there.\u00a0\r\nIt was a good fit, Jack said. He was raised on a farm, had a degree in animal science, and Ellie was raised on a tobacco farm in Ohio.\r\nEllie taught first grade in Alabama that year, and in the fall of 1963, Jack was asked, \u201cout of the blue\u201d to be a part of a new program, implemented by WVU, which would provide teachers to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.\u00a0\r\nIn their early and mid-20s, Jack and Ellie stepped up, and Jack became a teacher at Bukalasa College in Uganda.\r\n\u201cIt was so natural,\u201d Ellie said. \u201cWe loved the people, and they loved us. It was quite an opportunity to see the world.\u201d\r\nJack said there was a lot of optimism there at the time \u2013 a different and very peaceful climate.\r\nOne of Ellie\u2019s hobbies in, and prior to, retirement is birdwatching.\r\n[caption id="attachment_15630" align="alignleft" width="247"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/Scan-3.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/Scan-3-247x300.jpg" alt="" width="247" height="300" class="size-medium wp-image-15630" \/><\/a> ELLIE\u2008GAY\u2008BIRDWATCHING in Panama. She said it is the couple\u2019s passion for birds that keeps them traveling. Ellie\u2019s goal is to see \u201cevery bird in the world.\u201d[\/caption]\r\n\u201cUganda is prime for birdwatching,\u201d she said. \u201cAfrica is teeming with life. There are hundreds of species of beautiful, colorful birds.\u201d\r\nJack agreed, adding that one-third to one-half of the bird species of the world can be found there.\r\n\u201cIt was a wonderful experience,\u201d Ellie said, \u201cliving on the equator. We were basically on a plateau with a perfect climate, perfect temperatures. We had mangoes and pineapples just outside our door.\u201d\r\nJack spent the last two years of their adventure teaching at the Veterinary Training Institute in Entebbe.\r\n\u201cThe students were wonderful,\u201d Jack said. \u201cWe had mostly boys, but there were some girls. They really wanted to learn, and they wanted to succeed in life.\u201d\r\n\u201cThe people had very little,\u201d Ellie added, \u201cbut they had a willingness to learn.\u201d\r\nJack said you could grow about anything in Uganda, but most of the farming there was subsistence farming, which goes back to the history of Pocahontas County.\r\n\u201cBasically, what we were teaching there, was to expand their farming \u2013 more production \u2013 more money,\u201d he said.\r\nEllie learned about birdwatching in those days, and Jack learned a thing or two about golf.\r\n[caption id="attachment_15631" align="alignleft" width="243"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1599.web_.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1599.web_-243x300.jpg" alt="" width="243" height="300" class="size-medium wp-image-15631" \/><\/a> JACK\u2008GAY\u2008PLAYING golf in Jamaica. Jack got interested in the game while working in Uganda. Now that he\u2019s retired, he volunteers at the Pocahontas County Country Club.[\/caption]\r\nHe had never golfed before, but he took it up then and continues to enjoy it today \u2013 in retirement.\r\nIn addition, the couple visited the Serengeti, and Jack climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.\r\n\u201cWe were exposed to the world,\u201d Ellie said. \u201cWe got to see so much \u2013 Cairo, the Holy City, Jerusalem, Jordan, Israel \u2013 and we were so young.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\u201cWe were really blessed,\u201d Jack added. \u201cBut after six years we could see the political changes taking place and they didn\u2019t look good.\u201d\r\nThe couple\u2019s two sons were born in Uganda, and when the time came to leave, Ellie cried all the way home.\r\n\u201cNot the babies,\u201d she said. \u201cThe babies didn\u2019t cry. It was me. I cried because I was leaving after living there six years.\u201d\r\nThe couple returned to the states in 1969, where the political climate was changing, as well.\r\nJack decided to get involved in agriculture in the United States and started working on his PhD, but received yet another call \u201cout of the blue.\u201d\r\n\u201cIf I wrote my biography, it would be called \u2018Serendipity,\u201d\u2019 he said.\r\nThis call came from someone he\u2019d met in Uganda, encouraging him to interview with Farm Credit.\r\nAnd that interview ended his PhD studies.\r\nJack worked for Farm Credit in many capacities from 1969 to 1985, when he decided he wanted to start his own business and \u201cwrite his own check.\u201d\r\n\u201cWith two boys in college, it was quite an undertaking,\u201d Ellie said.\r\nJack and Ellie went into the retail business in Clarksville, Indiana, and from one store they expanded to 11. Ellie did the paperwork, and Jack kept the stores stocked and up and running.\r\n\u201cOur work was a great team effort,\u201d Jack said.\u00a0 \u201cWe were in business for twenty-five years.\u201d\r\nIn business, and highly rated by the companies who trusted them with their products.\r\n\u201cSometimes we were in the top twenty-five in sales,\u201d Jack said, \u201cand sometimes we were in the top ten. We won a lot of trips.\u201d\r\nTrips that took them to France, England, Greece, Germany and Austria.\r\nAlthough they have traveled and continue to travel around the world, they came back to Buckeye to retire and to live full-time in 2014.\r\nThey had also made several trips \u201chome\u201d through the years looking after Jack\u2019s widowed mother.\r\nJack and Ellie began a remodeling project on his parents\u2019 home in 2006, and remodeled Jack\u2019s grandmother\u2019s farmhouse on Buck\u2019s Run, as well.\r\nIn addition to remodeling and decorating, both are avid readers.\r\n\u201cThe great thing about retirement is getting up in the morning, drinking coffee and reading,\u201d Ellie said.\r\nJack loves to play golf.\r\nEllie continues her birdwatching hobby.\r\nThey have bird houses and flower gardens, and Jack is a \u201cputtering farmer.\u201d\r\n\u201cI just putter,\u201d he said. \u201cFix a fence, do a few odd jobs, just putter.\u201d\r\nThey enjoy visiting local spots and hiking, Ellie said.\r\nThey go to shows at the opera house.\r\nEllie is a member of the Art Guild that meets on Fridays.\r\nJack volunteers at the golf course.\r\nThey are involved in the work of Marlinton Presbyterian Church.\r\nEllie plans their semi-annual trips abroad.\r\nRight now she is working on the details for a trip to Nicaragua.\r\n\u201cOur passion for birds keeps us traveling,\u201d Ellie said. \u201cI would like to see every bird in the world.\u201d\r\nThey have a son and three grandchildren in California, and a son and three grandchildren in Louisville, Kentucky, so that requires planned trips, as well.\r\n\u201cRetirement is a good life,\u201d Ellie said. \u201cI wanted to do it when I was fifty. But we had to work until someone bought the businesses.\u201d\r\n[caption id="attachment_15632" align="alignleft" width="224"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1594.web_.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/04\/IMG_1594.web_-224x300.jpg" alt="" width="224" height="300" class="size-medium wp-image-15632" \/><\/a> JACK\u2008GAY WITH\u2008his Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat - just right for a \u201cputtering farmer\u201d \u2013 and Ellie with a book about her favorite hobby, Sumi-e, Japanese Brush Painting. Puttering and painting are just two of many activities that keep this couple busy in retirement.[\/caption]\r\nWhat advice do they have for young people?\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s really hard to plan for retirement when you\u2019re younger,\u201d Jack said. \u201cWhen people get to be fifty-five or sixty or when they approach that age, they are either not financially prepared or they haven\u2019t thought it out.\r\n\u201cIf you can\u2019t enjoy yourself and your life when you are thirty-five, thinking ahead that you will enjoy yourself and life when you retire \u2013 well, that is not so.\u201d\u00a0\r\nEllie focused on hobbies.\r\n\u201cI would say, when you\u2019re thirty-five, figure out what you really would like to do if you weren\u2019t busy with a job and raising a family. Say, \u2018I\u2019d like to\u00a0 - fill in the blank.\u2019 Then ask yourself how you could do that. Could you start a bank account to help make it happen?\r\n\u201cFrom 1985 to 2010, I did not pick up a paint brush, but I knew when I retired that I wanted to paint.\u201d\r\nEllie learned Japanese Brush Painting from a European lady years ago when she was living in Baltimore. Now, in retirement, she has time to devote to it, and she paints several hours each day.\u00a0\r\n\u201cWe don\u2019t have as much structure,\u201d Jack said. \u201cYou\u2019ve got to learn to move from a structured life to an unstructured life. Take up hobbies, spend time with friends.\r\n\u201cRetirement won\u2019t bring you happiness.\u201d\r\nI guess the lesson here is \u2013 you have to bring your own happiness to your life in retirement.\u00a0\r\nGet busy.\r\nStart planning.