Evans Gay

GayEvansGay Evans, FNP died on December 14, 2012 at the age of 74.  Gay’s interest in health education goes back to the early years after she graduated from the Oklahoma Baptist University School of Nursing in 1959. Working as a public health nurse with migrant workers in Bellglade, Florida, instilled in her the need for and value of teaching others how to take care of their own health and the health of their family. Her desire to magnify what she could do as one individual led her to enroll at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health where she received her Master of Science Degree in 1965. After graduation she moved to California where she taught nursing students at the University of San Francisco. In 1975, Gay earned her Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) certification at the University of Arizona College of Nursing. In 1977, she began working as an FNP at the El Rio Neighborhood Health Center in Tucson. When El Rio began to serve the homeless, Gay asked to become one of the nurse practitioners providing direct patient care to this underserved population. She believed if the homeless, abused women living in shelters, and prisoners could learn positive health practices they could improve their own lives and teach their children important health skills. This would help give them a path out of poverty. With this goal at the center of her work, Gay Founded and Directed The Health Education Project (T.H.E. Project) at El Rio Health Center. Gay’s greatest strength was her ability to recruit and develop a dynamic corps of volunteers who created all of T.H.E. Projects’ curricula in concert with Gay, taught all of its classes, and assisted Gay with its administration. Over 90 health and life-skills courses were taught in the shelters and prisons of Tucson each month, with Gay as the only paid person involved. If you knew Gay, chances are she recruited you to help – finding and eliciting skills you never knew you had – whether it was in public health projects, successfully lobbying for the right of nurse practitioners in Arizona to prescribe medicine, or at St. Francis – her faith community for almost forty years – with its youth programs, Health Ministries Team, Stephens Ministries, and numerous other efforts. See more here.

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