By the family
May 24, 2023: It is with great sadness that the family of Elaine Conway announces her passing on May 21, 2023. She passed away at her home surrounded by loved ones and family photographs, highlighting a life full of adventure, service and family. She joins her beloved husband Virgil in the Church Triumphant.
Elaine is survived by her two sons: William Wingate Gay (Michelle) and John L. Gay (Patricia); two step-daughters: Allison Conway Worthington (Ralph) and Sarah Conway: five grandchildren; William Wingate Gay, Jr, Trevor Gay, Heather Castrillon, Teddy Carey (Kyra) and Devon Gay Sullivan (Trevor); plus one great granddaughter, Amelia Sullivan.
Elaine was born in 1934 in Elizabeth, NJ and was raised in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. She attended Friends Seminary and the University of Pennsylvania. She moved to Brooklyn Heights in 1959 and began raising a family with first husband William K. Gay. While in Brooklyn Heights she was active in many community organizations, including the Junior League, City Hospital Visiting Committee, Woman’s Exchange and the South Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses. Elaine was the first woman to be Chair of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims Board of Deacons.
In 1969 she and her second husband Virgil Conway moved to Bronxville, NY. There she continued raising her family and remained very active in community affairs, particularly civic and political committees. It was well known that if Elaine asked you to join a committee you could not say “No” to her. Locally, Elaine served as a member of the Board of Governors for Lawrence Hospital for over 25 years. She was also a long-standing member of the Senior Citizens Council of Bronxville/Tuckahoe, a Board Member of Friends Seminary of New York, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees – State University at Purchase.
Elaine joined the Board of Directors of The Friends of Thirteen, Inc. in 1982. She was elected a life director in May, 2010. In 1985 she received a National Friends of Public Broadcasting Elizabeth Campbell Outstanding Public Television Volunteer Award. In 1987, as founding chairwoman of the board, she incorporated The Friends of Thirteen as a not-for-profit corporation, independent of Thirteen/WNET, but existing only to support the station. Elaine served as Chairwoman from 1987 through June 1995 coordinating the activities of staff and over ten thousand volunteers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In June 2007, she became Chairman of the Nominating Committee of The Friends of Thirteen, Inc.
In 1995 Elaine was appointed Director of the New York State Division for Women by Governor George Pataki, where she served until 2002. She was a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and served on the Executive Committee on Affirmative Action, AIDS Task Force, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Task Force, Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy and Poverty Task Force, and many more.
Elaine was recognized by many other organizations for her work from 1985 to 2010, including the Girls Scouts of America, American Museum of Natural History, Women’s National Republican Club, New York State Council on the Arts, New York School of Interior Design, the Junior League of Bronxville, and many more.
Before Elaine became impeded by her medical condition in 2010, she enjoyed spending summers with Virgil at their house on the beach in Montauk, NY. She and Virgil are honored at the Montauk Lighthouse as being one of the landmarks’ biggest supporters and benefactors.
In lieu of flowers, Elaine’s family asks that you make a donation to either the Friends of Thirteen (www.thirteen.org/friendsofthirteen) or New York-Presbyterian Westchester (formally known as Lawrence Hospital) (www.nyp.org/westchester/giving)
Services will be held at the Reformed Church of Bronxville on May 31st at 11:00am, with viewing hours at the Fred H. McGrath & Son, Inc. Funeral Home on May 30th from 5:00pm - 8:00pm.