Remembering Jim Gay, Foodways Journeyman Cook

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation remembers its friend and colleague Jim Gay on the occasion of his passing, April 2, 2012.

Jim is mourned by a loving family, and his loss will be felt across the country by the community of people he reached with his passion for food.

His generosity in sharing the joy of his discoveries creates a legacy that will live on in the heart of every home where one of his recipes is prepared. It is this historic legacy that we cherish as we remember Jim.

Learn more about Jim Gay’s career in Historic Foodways.

Support the Historic Foodways program in his memory. Be sure to add “in memory of Jim Gay of Historic Foodways” in the Comments section of the form.

Leave a comment below to share your memories of Jim Gay.


116 Responses to “Remembering Jim Gay, Foodways Journeyman Cook”

  1. April 3rd, 2012

    Lori R. says:

    Jim made all of our lives sweeter in his pursuit of knowledge of one of life’s greatest pleasures: chocolate. Jim, we will miss you dearly.

  2. April 3rd, 2012

    Kevin says:

    I enjoyed Jim Gay’s demonstrations and knowledge of 18th century food and drink. Jim educated, entertained and inspired me. I could stand and listen to him talk for hours. One time the kitchen cleared out of visitors and I found myself making small talk with Jim. Soon after visitors returned and I would find a spot against a wall and listen to him as if it was my first time. Thanks to his knowledge my bookshelves are enriched with books about food and drink from the time period. My sympathies to his family as well as his family at Colonial Williamsburg. The CW kitchens will never be the same.

  3. April 3rd, 2012

    Ray & Joy Neubauer says:

    Offering our deepest sympathies at the loss of this remarkable man. The colonial kitchens were always one of our favorite places to visit at CW. Jim was knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. He always made our visits so enjoyable. We will miss him. His loss will be keenly felt by many.

  4. April 3rd, 2012

    Ron House says:

    Jim was a man of many talents…cooking simply being one. A career naval officer serving our aviation antisubmarine warfare community, history buff, and accomplished musician. I remember his forming a high school rock group called “monosoupape”…which turned out to be a WW I radial aircraft engine. Somehow he must have tied food (chocolate!) into it. RIP friend, you have earned your peace.

  5. April 3rd, 2012

    Laura Thompson says:

    Ahhh, the happy memories watching Jim cook in that sweltering kitchen then listening to him speak with passion, about his work. He inspired a love for open fires and all things Colonial in me and I will always remember him fondly. God’s speed, Jim….Rest in Peace.

  6. April 3rd, 2012

    Heidi M says:

    Sympathies to family, friends, and associates. What is special about Colonial Williamsburg is embodied in Jim: the love and passion for appreciating and experiencing the entire colonial world. We thank him for his gift to all visitors and offer Sympathies to his family in this time.

  7. April 3rd, 2012

    Donald L. Jones and Diana E. Davis says:

    On our many visits to Williamsburg in the past four years we have always made it a habit to stop by the Palace Kitchen and visit with Jim. Sometimes it was an everyday thing as our visits are always for at least 4 days or more. He was a gracious, patient and kind to all who entered his domain. Our prayers go out to his family and I know he will be sorely missed by all who have seen him in character practicing his craft in the Palace Kitchen. I know he will become the Head Chef in Heaven. Thank you Jim for all that you have done.

  8. April 3rd, 2012

    Gretchen Goodell says:

    I enjoyed visiting with, working with, and learning from Jim. Whether it was during his chocolate demonstrations at Stratford Hall or during my trips to CW for conferences (the latest being the 18th-century alcohol symposium), I always enjoyed watching Jim work. He was an inspiration in the study and practice of historic foodways, and I send my deepest condolences to his friends and family.

  9. April 3rd, 2012

    Jessie Mae Kanagie says:

    I cannot truly express my saddness to Jim and His family.. These past 4 years i have Come to williamsburg for family vacations. And every time i go, i always go to the kitchen. I am fanatical about cooking traditional and healthy food. I was turned onto Hannah Glasse by Jim, and this past christmas he gave me some great advice on cooking a traditional christmas dinner hannah glasse style… I will always miss seeing him there….. Please know that every time i pick up my hannah glasse book I will be thinking of him. He is such an inspiration…. God Bless….

  10. April 3rd, 2012

    Lynne Mowbray says:

    My sympathy to Jim’s family and friends. Jim made the Palace kitchen a required stop on my visits to CW. I know he’ll be missed.

  11. April 3rd, 2012

    L.Z. says:

    Going to miss you Jim.

  12. April 3rd, 2012

    Erin Wright says:

    Jim was one of my favorite people at CW. I always loved it when he would come spend time with us in the Palace break room and, especially, when he brought chelsea buns! After I stopped working for CW, I would come back for a visit from time to time and seeing Jim was always a highlight. I am from Upstate NY and while visiting family several years ago, took a trip to Ft. Ticonderoga. What did I see for sale in their gift shop? Jim’s Colonial Heritage chocolate! It made me smile then and certainly still does now. Jim’s passing leaves a void in the CW family that will not be forgotten. I miss you, wonderful friend.

  13. April 3rd, 2012

    Eddie Menzies III says:

    My best wishes go out to Jim’s family. He was a great man and a great cook. He got to live his life doing what he loved and that in itself is a great achievement. I am glad that I not only got to know him but got to work with him as well. You can see his passion for cooking whenever he worked. Jim you will always be remembered and I thank you for the conversations we had, the laughs we shared, and the things you taught me. Save a seat for me in the next life so I can enjoy whatever goodness you’re cooking up there.

  14. April 3rd, 2012

    Penny Hawkins says:

    Visiting the kitchen at the Governor’s Palace is always the highlight of our frequent trips to CW. Jim educated, inspired and fascinated and I could literally listen to him for hours (or at least until my husband dragged me away). We were blessed to have him share his passion with us and I will always remember him. My heart goes out to Jim’s family and co-workers.

  15. April 3rd, 2012

    Maggie (McDonald) Esteves says:

    I had the honor of working with Jim as an intern in Foodways one semester and he kept in touch for years later as a friend and mentor. I had the pleasure of chatting with him just a few weeks ago about chocolate! I’ll never forget the first time I made chocolate, roasted a pigeon, or made pizza in that brickoven after hours. Thank you Jim for igniting in me a love of food, food history and teaching others about our passions that still burns in me today! Your knowledge, kindness and passion touched many, many people. You will be missed!

  16. April 3rd, 2012

    Diana Ashkenasy says:

    With deepest sympathy to Jim’s family and extended CW family. Jim helped so many of us understand and appreciate period foods. He helped me have a deeper understanding of how people thought about food in period. Thanks to Jim I’m no longer afraid to try cooking period foods. Be at rest Jim, with all the Chocolate in the Universe.

  17. April 3rd, 2012

    Lauren says:

    I had the pleasure of watching Jim’s demonstrations on several occasions and enjoyed the conversations we had with him. He was a great man and did a spectacular job of keeping the art of 18th century cooking alive for people today. His presence will be missed but his legacy will surely live on in Colonial Williamsburg. Thanks, Jim and may you rest in peace.

  18. April 3rd, 2012

    Nancy Carter Crump says:

    Jim’s love of life was obvious; his joy in his work inspirational; his willingness to share his knowledge — and his chocolate! — unforgettable. He will be missed.

  19. April 3rd, 2012

    Martha Katz-Hyman says:

    I was privileged to work with Jim when I was associate curator of metals and mechanical arts at CW. He taught me so much not only about chocolate and eighteenth-century foodways, but also about the value of friendship, and the importance of living life to the fullest. I will miss him.

    May his family find some comfort in knowing that so many people, from all over this country and beyond, have such good memories of a wonderful man.

  20. April 3rd, 2012

    Anne (Goodwill) Hinebaugh says:

    I had a great time working with Jim and the other Palace Kitchen foodways staff for a bit in 2007. He made my time in the kitchens, so much fun and educational. My condolences to his family and friends.

  21. April 3rd, 2012

    Eddie W. says:

    I want to thank everyone for the kind words and thoughts about my Uncle. Its incredible to see how many lives he touched every day. I also want to thank CW for putting this up in remembrance of Uncle Jim. Most of the immediate family is busy right now, as you all can imagine, so I really wanted to let everyone know how much this means to us. He was truly wise, and when he spoke, I always knew to listen and learn. Again, thanks to everyone for remembering who he is, and the kind words and prayers that have been said. We greatly appreciate it.

    • April 3rd, 2012

      Marie says:


      So sad to know that Jim is gone. I still can’t believe it. My very best wishes to all your family in the coming weeks.

      Marie Mercer
      Palm Bay, Florida

  22. April 3rd, 2012

    pam williams says:

    Such sad news…such a tremendous loss. Jim will be sorely missed, but his knowledge – and his smile – will always be with us. Sympathies to his family, and to his Foodways colleagues, as well.

  23. April 3rd, 2012

    Stephan P. Zacharias says:

    What an incredible and amazing man, chef, mentor, interpreter, and the list goes on…this is a great loss. My heart goes out to all of Jim’s family, co-workers, and his numerous, dear friends across the country. Sad news for sure, but I know the Kitchens on the other side of those Pearly Gates just got that much better! We will miss you dearly, Jim!

  24. April 3rd, 2012

    Donna Woodward says:

    One of the kindest people I’ve ever met and worked with. So passionate not only about his trade, but also about teaching it to others. A great loss for CW and for anyone who knew him. My condolences to his family and friends.

  25. April 3rd, 2012

    Scott Christley says:

    Our thoughts go out to Jim’s family and his CW family. One of my favorite people to visit when we are in CW. Loved the passion and knowledge he had about colonial cooking and the fun he had while going about his work. He will always be with us, but it will never be quite the same in the CW kitchens.

  26. April 3rd, 2012

    Susan Pryor says:

    I remember Jim before he went into the kitchens, when he took school groups around the Historic Area and he would frequently visit me in my shop, the Apothecary. His enthusiasm and love of learning was boundless and I enjoyed working with him. When he moved into the kitchens we became colleagues in Trades and I enjoyed seeing him out and about. His dedication to the pursuit of knowledge regarding the history of chocolate is one of the ways he helped CW maintain it’s reputation. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. May the wings of angels enfold you all.

  27. April 3rd, 2012

    Brittany Liberta says:

    Jim was one of the finest men I ever got the privilege to work with. He was a great friend. He had the most wonderful love and devotion for his family as well as his job. I will never forget him. It will be some time before I can eat chocolate without tearing up.

  28. April 3rd, 2012

    Jennifer Bolton says:

    This is a complete shock, and an irreplaceable loss. Jim was a great friend, and just a wonderful, caring person. I always enjoyed cooking and laughing with him, and he continued to correspond with me after I left Colonial Williamsburg. He will be sorely missed, but well remembered. My deepest sympathies to his friends and family.

  29. April 3rd, 2012

    Jenny Lynn says:

    Jim was one of the first people I met here at Williamsburg who really took me under his wing. He taught me SO much as an interpreter, and let me taste a lot too. He was also a great friend who would do anything for you. He always checked in on me to make sure I was eating well, and now every time I bite into a piece of chocolate, I’m going to think of him (and I will always guppy it, the way he taught me). I will bet he’s already made friends with Hannah Glasse and Mary Randolph in Heaven so they can compare receipts. 🙂 We’re going to miss you, Friend.

  30. April 3rd, 2012

    Paul and Janet Bird says:

    In the course of a year, we make at least 6 trips to CW for a week at a time. No trip was complete without going to the palace kitchen to see what Jim Gay was cooking. The chocolate making was our favorite. Jim was so patient as he answered the same questions as new guests came and asked the same questions previous guests asked. The most common question was, “What’s that?” as someone pointed to a food on the table. We will really miss listening to Jim. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and the entire CW family.

  31. April 3rd, 2012

    Anne Marie Lane Jonah says:

    My deepest most heartfelt sympathies to Jim’s family and friends. Jim’s love of history, of food, and of sharing the joy of discovery, as well as his high standards, have been a great inspiration to us at Louisbourg. He’ll be very much missed and remembered very fondly.

  32. April 3rd, 2012

    Lucie Vinciguerra says:

    Jim, I hadn’t known you for very long, or even very well, but you always made me feel like an old friend. That’s why you will be missed by so many.

  33. April 3rd, 2012

    Cheryl Castellari says:

    Our family just had the pleasure to meet and converse with Jim at the Palace a few weeks ago. Very sorry to hear of his passing. Our condolences to Jim’s family. May he rest in peace.

  34. April 3rd, 2012

    Ruby Fougere says:

    My heart aches for Jim’s family, friends, and co-workers at Colonial Williamsburg. We’ve lost a great friend and colleague who’s passion for history was inspiring and addictive to all of us who work with culinary programs at historic sites. I will truly miss Jim.

    Ruby Fougere

  35. April 3rd, 2012

    Amaree says:

    Thank you, Jim, for wonderful, happy memories, for recipes I’ll be using and passing on for the rest of my life, and most of all for your generous, warm, enduring friendship. Here was a man who knew the value of the little gestures that make life beautiful. Thank you to Jim’s family for sharing him with us; I am praying for your peace and comfort, and that those beautiful grandbabies will grow up knowing what a dear and loving man their grandpa was.

  36. April 3rd, 2012

    Stacie says:

    May he rest in Peace. May peace come to his family at his passing.
    Jim was always a joy to see. We were able to see him at CW and Stratford Hall. He was his amazing self at this last Foodways Symposium. We will miss him but pray that he receives a heavenly reward for the joy that he spread.

  37. April 3rd, 2012

    Thomas T. Hay says:

    Fair winds and following seas old friend. Your watch is over, your duty done. Jim was a kind and good gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor. He shall be missed.

  38. April 3rd, 2012

    David Lind says:

    …a long time friend who will be greatly missed!!
    We went to Central Union High School in El Centro, CA, together and after college we both served 20 years in the Navy… 1972-1992.
    Our prayers go out to family and friends and we pray that God might cover you with His great love and comfort.
    — David

  39. April 3rd, 2012

    Robert says:

    My deepest sympathies to his friends and family on their loss..

    On my many trips to CW over the years, the kitchens have always been part of those visits. I could spend hrs. watching and learning. Thank you for teaching and sharing your love of 18th century food and techniques.

  40. April 3rd, 2012

    The Scotts says:

    Our deepest sympathies to Mr.Gay’s personal family and extended Colonial Williamsburg family. He was a remarkable man of many talents! Peace!

  41. April 3rd, 2012

    My husband and I will certainly miss Jim. The Governor’s Place kitchen was always one of our stops when we went to CW. His chocolate demonstrations was an all day treat. You could tell that Jim was passionate about historic foods and it was a joy to talk to him.

  42. April 3rd, 2012

    B.L. Trahos says:

    I could not believe my eyes this morning when a friend notified me of Jim’s passing—It seems impossible that he is gone—I just saw and exchanged thoughts with him last week at the “Good Spirits” symposium. I will always appreciate his willingness to share his research, experience and himself with others—he will be sorely missed. My deepest sympathy to his family and to his co-workers at CW.

  43. April 3rd, 2012

    Kate says:

    So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He was a wonderful interpreter and was very helpful for many of us want-to-be historic food researchers. He will be missed very much.

  44. April 3rd, 2012

    Jane says:

    I was a historic interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg working primarily in Buildings and I knew Jim from his days as an interpreter for School and Group Services. As he was leading and teaching his various groups (ranging from fifth graders to seniors), he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as those he was leading! He had excellent rapport with them! But his heart was always with food preparation and he truly ‘came into his own’ when he was hired for the Foodways interpretation. The chocolate program was his own heart-felt project and he worried and watched it as a mother hen with one chick. Jim will be sorely missed by co-workers and visitors alike.

  45. April 3rd, 2012

    Alan Mitchell says:

    I regretfully never got to meet Jim, but to listen to the praises the fellow CW folks and our guests had for him really says a lot about him. My deepest sympathy to his family

  46. April 3rd, 2012

    Ann Bolden Gwinn says:

    Jim will be missed by many. He had a warmth and gentle smile that could light up the palace courtyard. His willingness to share his passion for his work and food will always be remembered.

  47. April 3rd, 2012

    Frank Clark says:

    I will speak for the entire foodways staff in saying thank you all so much for your comments, kindness and prayers. We are all still in shock and only now beginning to realize the thousands of things that we will miss about Jim. We can never replace Jim’s drive and passion but, we can and will continue his chocolate program. We are all positive that he would want us too!

  48. April 3rd, 2012

    Pamela Bentien says:

    The Palace Kitchen is one of my favorite haunts during my annual Presidents’ Weekend visits to C.W. I stop there at least once a day during my visit.

    My condolences to Jim’s family, friends and C.W. family.

  49. April 3rd, 2012

    Laurie Hackett says:

    Our family was deeply saddened by the news. We’ve always enjoyed every moment we spent learning about Colonial cooking and being tantalized with chocolate in the various CW kitchens from Jim. My daughter remembers “Jim the Chocolatier” from the EFT, “The Amazing Trade Shop Science Race”. I am so glad we were able to visit with him last Saturday at the opening of the Armoury kitchen. His future plans for baking with the new bread oven enticed me to return soon for the first baking. He will be greatly missed. We are holding his loved ones in our prayers…

  50. April 3rd, 2012

    Rebecca says:

    So very sorry to hear of this kind man’s passing. He was very kind to my daughter, making her her very special birthday cake every year, and encouraging her in her art. He will be greatly missed by many.

  51. April 3rd, 2012

    John Gay says:

    Uncle Jim identified so much with his CW family. He once treated us to a traditional Thanksgiving feast with his signature chocolate pie while visiting us in California. What struck me most was not only his love for cooking but his gift for sharing. Thank you for the kind words and more importantly thank you for all your enduring friendships. He was most like his father….funny, dedicated and cherished by so many..God Bless you all for your time spent with him.

  52. April 3rd, 2012

    Roberta Laynor says:

    Jim Gay and chocolate are synonymous. I’ll never be able to separate the two. Jim put up with my maintenance closings at the Palace Kitchen with never a complaint. He was always kind to me. My sympathies to his relatives and his CW family.

  53. April 3rd, 2012

    Martha & Dick Hartley says:

    How blessed we all have been to have benefited from Jim’s enthusiasm for historic foodways. Jim’s talents were engaging the public, doing foodways research and program development, and revealing the past to today’s world. Our prayers are with Jim’s family and his CWF colleagues. The smile, the laughter, the wit, and the knowledge lives on in our hearts.

  54. April 4th, 2012

    Jane Rees says:

    I always hugely enjoyed my visits to watch chocolate making and talk about all the latest research and information with Jim. I will greatly miss seeing him when I am next back in CW.

    My depest condolences to all his family and also to everyone in the Palace Kitchen.

  55. April 4th, 2012

    Uncle Jim I miss you so much!! You got taken from our family way too soon! I never got to say goodbye and thank you so much for everything you did for my wedding reception! I will never forget our amazing conversations and of course the amazing food that you cooked for us all the time! Im also really going to miss the fb “likes” and comments on my photos and all the encourage you have given me to pursue my dream of being a photographer. I love and miss you so much! J wanted to know if you ever got to use the honey we sent?

  56. April 4th, 2012

    Mark Taylor says:

    The news of Jim’s passing is so very sad. He was a wonderful teacher, sharing from his deep well of knowledge with kindness and patience. Jim made us better interpreters, both by his teaching and by his example. Jim applied his skills in the kitchen with such ease and grace that it was hard to believe that he had ever done anything else. We will miss him.

  57. April 4th, 2012

    Debbie Razzano says:

    I will miss our dinners together. Two amazing chefs making their best dishes and sharing an evening of fun! Jim was a great friend and we loved him very much!

  58. April 4th, 2012

    George and Penny Koucoules says:

    We unforunately never had the great pleasure of meeting Jim or taste any of his famous cooking…as we had hope to one day…we are long time friends with his loving sister-in-law/brother-in-law Carol & Tom Legare…through them feel like we know Jim…we have heard lots of loving tasty stories about this wonderful man…it is so sad we never had the chance to meet Jim in person…we send All Our Love & Blessings to Janice, Carol, Tom, Carol & Janice’s Mom…all of Jim’s Family & Friends…

  59. April 4th, 2012

    Dave Doody says:

    My condolences to everyone. Jim will be missed by all that knew him. A great guy that can never be replaced.

  60. April 4th, 2012

    Carla says:

    I barely knew Jim, but whenever I did see him he was smiling and friendly. My condolences to his family!

  61. April 4th, 2012

    D. Cash Arehart says:

    I’m grateful for the all time I enjoyed working with Jim and getting to know him, and for the wise council he provided me. CW is fortunate to be blessed with so many generous and talented interpreters but it does not make the loss of any one any lighter to bear. Thank you Jim.

  62. April 4th, 2012

    Mary & Jack Kretsch says:

    We have been coming to CW for 20 years, and the first time we met Jim he was doing a evening program as a pitate how fitting, over the years we have enjoyed his smiling face at the Palace kitchen and his demos. We have made some friends at CW and have counted him as one. We can only say that he will be missed and blessings to his family, may they know that he was a great guy.

  63. April 4th, 2012

    Linda Zeigler says:

    This was the most dreadful news. I am thankful to have spoken with Jim at the recent foodways conference in CW. My deepest sympathies to Frank and all the Foodways staff, Williamsburg, his family and friends.
    Jim Gay was truly a gentle-man. I will make a chocolate tart one day soon to celebrate his life and all he gave us.

  64. April 4th, 2012

    Dennis Cotner says:

    My heart is full for my co-worker. God bless his family. I helped hire Jim for Foodway years ago and his enthusiasm knew no bounds. We are all feeling like he is just on vacation and will be back soon. His presence will always be felt with his ‘Baby’, the chocolate program. He and I always had spirited discussions about almost anything (sometimes annoying our co-workers) and enjoyed a good laugh to get ourselves going for work. Our favorite topic was restaurants and what dishes were the best. I’ll miss that my friend, miss it terribly. Here’s to you, Jim.

  65. April 4th, 2012

    Deborah Mars says:

    I am still in shock after hearing about Jim’s death. I was in awe of him and a great admirer before I even met him, when I read that someone had re-created the 18th century way of making chocolate! I was even more impressed when we met – the guy was fun to be with, a fount of knowlege and stories, and a heck of a chocolatemaker. Luckily for us, his legacy is a sweet one – he left behind some wonderful memories and contributed to a great chocolate product with the American Heritage Brand. But the legacy is only part of Jim’s greatness – my heart goes out to his family and friends at CW and everywhere. He was a dynamite human being and I will miss him like crazy. Whoever said that he is up in heaven trading recipes with Hannah Glass is probably right – and I bet Hannah is learning a thing or two!

  66. April 4th, 2012

    Colin Campbell says:

    I have now read more than 60 tributes to Jim. They are a reminder of what a special impact he had on the many lives he touched.I shall not soon forget the joy he took in showing off the new kitchen at the Armoury at Saturday’s opening. Thank goodness he had an opportunity to meet the public in that wonderful setting that bears his trademark authenticity and concern for historical detail.My heart goes out to Jim’s family, his Foodways and Trades colleagues and his legions of friends who have suffered a grievous loss.

  67. April 4th, 2012

    Marilyn Jennings says:

    Jim was already a veteran at School and Group Services when I was hired in 1995. He was always gracious to the new kids on the block – sharing his knowledge, giving us helpful tips and just being a colleague and mentor. I also knew Jim as a story teller for the Legends evening program. I don’t know who laughed more when he told “Combustible Woman”, Jim or his audience. He told stories like he lived the rest of his life – with joy and gusto. Rest in peace, Jim, and prayers for comfort for Jim’s family.

  68. April 4th, 2012

    Sarah Gould says:

    I have so many wonderful memories of learning how to cook from Jim in the Palace and the Randolph. Those chocolate making days were always such fun. I thought at first that my dinner with Jan and Jim a few months ago stood out as my favorite time with him and made even better by being with Jan and Ranger. Then I got to thinking about the day of the Armory opening and how I had been asked to bring over the goodies of drinks and eating needs for everybody’s special lunch that afternoon. It was kind of a “gopher” need that had to be done, nothing special. How little I knew that would be my last wondeful in person memory of Jim telling me he would help me get the cart of stuff downstairs in the Brickhouse tavern basement. Barbara Jim and I joked and laughed before I had to rush off. And finally though we did not speak I know that I saw his last facebook post shortly after he made it and I laughed in great glee by what he wrote. Perhaps my laugh was also my saying fond and sad good bye to someone we all consider very special in our lives. I hope that he heard me.

  69. April 4th, 2012

    Yesterday I was just numb with shock and full of disbelief. I will never forget the first time I met Jim at Colonial Williamsburg and the combined Chcoolate Workshop that Jim and I planned for ALHFAM. I feel so fortunate to have spoken to him at the Good Spirits conference just a week ago. His passion for his work in food history and his contributions to the field are remarkable. In recent months we have been sharing grandchildren stories. My heart goes out to his family and his co-workers at Colonial Williamsburg.

  70. April 4th, 2012

    Mike Emerson says:

    What a nice, nice man….I went to high school with Jim. Always upbeat. My prayers for healing to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be missed.

    With Sympathy,

    Mike Emerson
    La Jolla, CA

  71. April 4th, 2012

    Kristy Engel says:

    I have to say how deeply shocked and saddened I am by Jim’s death. I first worked with Jim as an interpreter in foodways. I watched and helped him grow his chocolate program from it’s humble beginings (those early batches were a little rough…literaly) to the wonderfull masterpiece that it is today. I often commented on how much the foundation owed to him for the attention his program brought to CW. His enthusiasm was boundless. His joy was infectious. His generosity was admirable. How fitting that his last day at CW was at the opening of the armoury. He excitment was obvious and overflowing! I didn’t get to work with him much in recent days, and I feel gratefull that I was able to spend so much time (and bread) with him on that day. Jim…I here your voice in my ear even now, and it makes me smile.

  72. April 4th, 2012

    Ann & Bill White says:

    Jim, was our long time friend and neighbor. We had many a mailbox conversation as he passed walking the dog(s). I remember helping him split wood for the winter supply. I bowed to him after seeing one of CW’s PBS shows. I asked if I needed an appointment to talk with him and requested his auotgraph.
    Jim, his caring and jovial manner will sorely be missed by the White family.
    To Jan and family we offer sincere heartfelt condolences.

  73. April 4th, 2012

    Ed Gross says:

    I am so shocked and saddened. Jim was a dear friend, and we had little “zingers” tossed back and forth on Facebook nearly every day. Our family went up to Williamsburg to see him and he and Janice came down to South Carolina where her family is, and we had his famous BBQ there. He and I were classmates from earliest childhood, and lifelong friends. We were both musicians and shared insights and discoveries. His was always a kind and comforting voice that steered back toward the track as best he saw it, and his humor was a priceless gift. To say he’ll be missed is a deep understatement.

  74. April 4th, 2012

    Dave Loeper says:

    I am so shocked as I was on the CW website and found out about Jim’s death. I visit CW at least 3 weeks a year and always stop and see what Jim is cooking in the kitchens either at the Palace or at the Randolf house…and of course the chocolate is always a fun thing to watch him make. He was always a wealth of knowledge when you would talk to him about cooking in colonial times. I will surely miss him on my future visits. Rest in Peace Jim.

  75. April 5th, 2012

    Colleen Shipler says:

    I’m shocked and saddened to receive this notice from an old classmate. Jim and I were close buddies in high school and college. He got me a job after high school working for his dad at the newspaper Imperial Valley Press. We lost touch after college though I saw him and his wife at the 10yr high school reunion- she was pregnant with their first child and they seemed so happy. I knew that after his military career he was working at Colonial Williamsburg and somehow always dreamed I’d visit someday and surprise him. I loved that he was doing something fun and that he loved. He was a fun, funny gentle soul even in high school and I can tell from the messages that he continued as such. My prayers are for all of Jim’s family and friends, and I can only add how lucky and blessed you all were to have him in your life.

  76. April 5th, 2012

    Meredith Poole says:

    Jim liked to stop by the archaeological excavation at the Armoury to ask if we had discovered any 18th century pies. He asked often, always with a twinkle in his eye. It never got old. Last year on Good Friday…a cold, raw day…Jim stopped by with a basket full of hot cross buns, fresh from the Palace kitchen. The experience of sharing warm bread with good friends on a miserable day stands out as one of the highlights of my career at Colonial Williamsburg. Jim Gay made those sorts of things happen. He connected viscerally, to use the word in its most literal sense. We will miss him more than we yet know.

  77. April 5th, 2012

    Cindy Gunther says:

    To Jim’s family and Food ways family,
    Everyone who came to meet and know Jim will remember his open and sharing way. How many times I would call or stop him on the steet to ask yet another food ways question. And Jim would always stop and give you his undivided attention, leaving you with not only answers but a good laugh as well.
    May God bless you with wonderful memories and great laughes, just as Jim would want.

  78. April 5th, 2012

    Elder Robert & Min. Valerie Jackson says:

    To Jim’s Family and Friends,
    We first met Jim when we both interned in the CW kitchen. He taught us how to make the best pound cake ever. Always had a smile and was a true teacher of his craft. Please be comforted in knowing that Jim will be fondly remembered by all that were blessed by his laugher, and his knowledge and love of cooking. May God comfort you and keep you in His arms as you go through this difficult time. Robert and Valerie.

  79. April 5th, 2012

    Ginger Bryan says:

    Jim was a talented, fun, and wonderful man. What a terrible loss. I had just chatted with him last week and was hoping to come see him at the Armory soon – I’m glad he was there for the opening but what a terrible loss for everyone and my deepest sympathy to his family and collleagues – especially those at Foodways.

  80. April 5th, 2012

    The Varcasia's says:

    Our sympathies to all the Historic Foodwya staff on the loss of Jim. We visit CW often and the kitchens are always one of our favorite places to stop in. We always enjoyed learning from Jim. We also especially appreciated his kindness to our daughter when she interned in the Palace kitchen. She very much enjoyed her time there and counted Jim and all the staff as friends. Rest in peace, Jim. You will be missed

  81. April 5th, 2012

    Jim was a best bud many years ago in high school and college. We made music on our guitars and sang…for our supper, at times. We laughed, talked well into many nights, and eventually went are separate ways. A matter of fate, really. He has always been a close friend in my heart, and my sincere wishes for peace go out to his family.

    While ours were conversations of great intensity, given the upheavals of the late sixties and early seventies – we were “McCarthy Kids” after all – there always seemed to be an underlying wisdom and compassionate soul in Jim, even an that early age. I have no doubt that he touched many lives in many wonderful ways. He would have it no other way.

    Rest in God’s Peace, my Friend

  82. April 6th, 2012

    Russ Henke says:

    I remember how welcoming Jim was during my first days working as an interpreter in the Governor’s Palace. He always had a kind word or humorous story to share, and even though we knew each other for such a short time it seemed like he was a long-time friend. A few years later when I moved on to a supervisor’s position in school and groups and Jim would see me, he would often ask when I was going to return to the Palace and do some real work again — soon Jim, soon. I also remember how surprised and pleased he was to see me when I showed up to see him in Alexandria during Operation Sail in 2007 — and oh, how he was wowing the crowd as he produced yet another batch of his delicious chocolate.
    Jim, I’ll never forget you my friend. You were an exemplary cook, the consummate interpreter, and a very dear friend. Your memory lives on!

  83. April 6th, 2012

    When I heard the news of this wonderful mans passing I just dissolved in tears. He was a fabulous person and I value the fact that we were friends. He was so generous with teaching and sharing information. I am very glad I got to sit with him a bit just to visit at the Alcohol symposium last month.

    My heart goes out to his devasted family. I will always remember him with great affection.

    Deborah of
    Deborah Peterson’s Pantry

  84. April 6th, 2012

    Cherryn Whisler says:

    I never got to see Jim in action, but I have heard many stories about how wonderful he was in the kitchens. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  85. April 6th, 2012

    Terry says:

    My condolences to the family, what a loss. We will really miss you, Jim. We all enjoyed working with you, and eating the great chocolate you made.

  86. April 6th, 2012

    Patti Vaticano says:

    I did not know him well, but he always called me by name and had a ready smile for me when we met. What a dear soul. I will miss our chance encounters–and his sweet smile. May God grant him and his family peace. Patti Vaticano

  87. April 6th, 2012

    Richard Schumann says:

    On the Armory’s opening day, I spent a good while with Jim. He foisted upon me a piece of bread dunked in beef fat, saying to me, “You gotta eat this, Governor! The staple of the Army! The maiden voyage of the kitchen! Come on, it’s an historic occasion!” Typical Jimbo–upbeat, good-natured, funny, loving what he was doing…Proud Navy man… With his passing on to the Great Hearth in the Sky, I have a huge hole in my heart. But, as Shakespeare says in Hamlet Iiii,
    “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel…”
    Jim Gay will be grappled at CW forever.

  88. April 7th, 2012

    Ann Parker says:

    I remember Jim that first summer at the Powell House, when all he wanted to do was cook. And the The Courtship and Marriage of Hannah Powell and William Drew. Never have any cooks worked as hard or had as much fun, not mention such wonderful food. And the famous yearly Powell Pizza Parties when Jim baked home-made pizzas in the brick oven for all staff and junior interpreters. You always made us laugh, and We’ll miss you, Jim.

  89. April 7th, 2012

    Christine Hansley says:

    To Jim’s family and CWF family our deepest sympathy. As many have said, when in Williamsburg it is almost mandatory to stop at one of the kichens where Jim was working his magic. We never got tired of hearing him talk about food. I’m glad to read that Frank and the Foodways crew will be continuing Jim’s chocolate program. That is a wonderful tribute to the memory of a man who so enjoyed his work of teaching and sharing his love of 1800 century food. I suspect Jim will be watching over the kichens at CWF for a long, long time. Rest in peace Jim, you will be miised by many.

  90. April 8th, 2012

    Mike Luzzi says:

    I have no words that have not been said, nor tears that have not been shed. Val is still stunned at the news. Jim was a good friend in the years we spent at CW interpreting history. Our prayers go to his family. My heart grieves for the pain it must cause the friends he had and worked with in the kitchens at Williamsburg who must feel his loss most deeply. And I am thankful for the copy I have of “Dinner Impossible” so I may see him again and remember this friend who remains alive in the many hearts of we who have had the privilege of knowing him.

  91. April 8th, 2012

    Lisa Hrinko says:

    To Jim’s family and our friends at CW’s Foodways, Dan and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers. I have lost a member of my colonial family. Jim taught me so much about chocolate. My last workshop with him was this past January, when I became his assistant in grinding the cacaoe nibs into that beautiful chocolate paste. He taught me so much that day. I am very thankful for that time with him. My father taught me to leave this world in a better place than what we found it. Jim did that! Well done my friend.

  92. April 8th, 2012

    Gayla Regitz Jones says:

    Mr Gay, that’s how I knew him because his daughter is one of my dearest friends, always fascinated me. He knew so many things- I always made an effort to stop by the CW kitchens when I got to return home hoping to visit with him and knowing I’d learn something new. We got to visit last year in his home surrounded by his 4 granddaughters and sharing stories of his time cooking with Paula Dean over cups of colonial hot chocolate. He sent my husband home with a few of his colonial home brewed beers- we have been saving the last bottle for a special occasion- I think we will raise a glass in his honor this week. My deepest sympathies to Mrs Gay and the daughter and granddaughters he left behind.

  93. April 9th, 2012

    Carol Brosnan says:

    Jim, you will be missed by so many. You taught me so much about colonial cooking. Any questiion I had you answered without making me feel like I should had know that. Your smile could light up the room. Everytime I look at the triplets picture here at work I will think of you. You just lite up when talking about all of you grandkiddies. I know your family has lost a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle. You left a mark at CW that will never be able to be replaced. You may be gone but not forgotten.

  94. April 9th, 2012

    Bill Barker says:

    Amongst the many happiest memories of the last seventeen years in Colonial Williamsburg will remain the kind disposition and devotion to his art that will always be Jim Gay. Thank you Jim and God Bless.

  95. April 9th, 2012

    Dan Goldstein says:

    I remember first meeting Jim when he came to work at School and Groups Services. Jim also was one of the folks that helped start the ghost tours in the historic area. Jim and I would share stories about who had the most success scaring the little ones! great guy and will be sorely missed by all that were lucky enough to have met him.

  96. April 10th, 2012

    Kent Brinkley says:

    Our mutual friend, Jim Gay, was typical of so many of the talented people who have, or still do, work for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation…..he had a true dedication and passion for his craft; he dearly loved history; and he wanted to freely share his acquired knowledge and enthusiasm for these things with others. Although quite humble and unassuming in one-on-one conversations with him, Jim was always gracious and a true gentleman. His sudden passing leaves his family, and his scores of friends and acquaintances to mourn his loss to all of us, and he will be sorely missed by all who were fortunate to know, work with, or learn from him. Our sincerest condolences are extended to the members of his immediate family as they mourn and lovingly remember this fine man who was, at once, such a great guy, as well as a being a learned and singularly dedicated foodways historian.

  97. April 10th, 2012

    Always a smile on his face, and despite his great accomplishments, Navy and otherwise, he truly was a humble soul. He will be greatly missed and I’m sure that there are some delicious new treats in Heaven thanks to Jim. Our prayers and good thoughts to his family. Michael and Shari Monaco

  98. April 10th, 2012

    Chris Geist says:

    Jim was a true Colonial Williamsburg treasure. He was open and always giving of his knowledge. He once treated several visiting friends of mine to a special taste of chocolate behind the scenes. And he taught all of us a great deal about historic interpretation. He will be missed every time any of his friends enter a CW kitchen–and he will be missed by many repeat visitors who looked forward to a few minutes in his light.

  99. April 11th, 2012

    Dennis Montgomery says:

    The outpouring of regret for Jim’s death, and the fond memories of his associates, family, colleagues and friends show that nice guys finish first.

  100. April 11th, 2012

    Jim and Abby Searls says:

    Our many trips from Michigan were always highlighted by our stops at the Palace kitchens. On recent trips we were delighted by the chocolate making. Jim Gay was always the consummate teacher. His passion for cooking was very evident and we always left feeling like we learned a great deal.

    Although we never knew Jim on a personal basis, we felt the connection and wish to extend to his family our prayers and sympathies.

  101. April 11th, 2012

    Andrea Squires says:

    Goodbye, Jim, and thank you for being a wonderful man and an inspiring interpreter. Thank you to your family for sharing him. You and we lost him much too soon.

  102. April 11th, 2012

    Mike Olmert says:

    Jim’s collegiality was amazing. He always did his best to answer any question I posed and he never bristled at difficult ones, insisting there were no stupid questions. Thoughtful, helpful, patient, and generous he was, and no one was quicker at getting back to me with a citation or link — or even a rethink of the whole original position. He was never too proud or too smart to start over. Here was a real man.

  103. April 13th, 2012

    Helen FitzGerald says:

    I can only concur with what has already been written.

    What about starting a Jim Gay Fund or scholarship for new food ways apprentices or journeymen? How could we contribute?

    Thanks, Helen

    • April 13th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      That’s a lovely suggestion. We will pass it along to our leadership.

  104. April 19th, 2012

    Holly Barbour says:

    I left Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago, but I remember Jim distinctly. I started work as an Orientation Interpreter, then as a Groups Interpreter, and one of my favorite places to go (and to bring my groups) was always the Palace kitchen. I didn’t know him very well, or for very long, but he was always kind to me, and there always seemed to be a treat or two avaliable for those of us who worked at the Palace, even temporarily. I always felt welcome in the kitchen, even when I came by on my off-hours. Rest in peace, Jim. I won’t forget your kindness.

  105. April 23rd, 2012

    Judy Marquart says:

    I’m a frequent visitor to CW … I live in Houston, Texas … and have always loved watching Jim “do his thing” in the preparation of food, especially the chocolate. He was always so patient with everyone and gladly answered any questions thrown his way. My sympathy goes out to his family and may he rest in peace. I shall miss you on my future visits to CW!!

  106. May 10th, 2012

    I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Gay. He will be missed by everyone within the historic food community. His work and enthusiasm was an inspiration that spread far beyond the bounds of Colonial Williamsburg. He will be remembered in many ways, by many people. I will certainly bake a Tourte de Chocolate in his honour.

    Jim, the kitchen will echo with the fading sounds of your voice and the rattle of pots over the fire.

  107. May 12th, 2012

    Hilary Goodnow says:

    Over the course of my 5 month-internship with Historic Foodways in 2008, Jim’s energy and enthusiasm for the job and the scholarship fueled my own and has since proven to be a source of culinary and historical inspiration. He is one of a handful of people whom I credit for really teaching me how to cook, and for that gift I will always be grateful.

  108. May 20th, 2012

    Bill Gay says:

    I am Jim’s brother. I want to thank everyone who has taken time to write something here about Jim. Indeed, he was a unique treasure. I am humbled by the impact he had on so many people. And, yes, if the CW Foodways family finds it fitting to establish a memorial in Jim’s name, you have the Gay family’s full support. Let us know how we can help.

  109. May 22nd, 2012

    Margi Reed says:

    This came as a sad shock, seeing that Mr.Gay passed away literally brought tears to my eyes. I remember with great fondness how he took time out from his work to answer all my questions. He was passionate about his work and I for one will feel his absence when I return to CW. My thoughts are with his family and friends,and I thank you for sharing him with all of us. His loving, and generous spirit will be greatly missed.

  110. May 22nd, 2012

    I cannot believe Jim is gone. There are some rare human beings in whom the joy of life is so great, and good will so warm, that it is hard to imagine the world quite holding together without them. Our memories of Jim seem to dissolve time. I picture him shoveling coal onto the fire at the height of summer at the Palace kitchen, talking with his infectious enthusiasm about the relative merits of regional chowders, all of fifteen years ago. Or working in colonial dress beside those white-coated candy technicians at the Mars factory, reinventing the idea of chocolate Or at the armoury kitchen hours before the grand opening, “getting a head start on cooking the newness off all this new equipment.” Always the same dear Jim! He was as modest and generous and fine a man as I ever knew. We only saw Jim in the kitchen, but we loved him, and shall keep him in our hearts, and are so grateful to have known him. To us now, chocolate shall be for remembrance.

  111. June 1st, 2012

    William E. Taylor says:

    I am devastated ………. Perge’ My Fiji Brother …… Jim and I were roommates at University of Southern California in 1972-73. We were both members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (Fiji’s). Jim and I had corresponded several times the last few years through Facebook and become re-acquainted. I am in shock and have no words to express my grief in learning of Jim’s passing. I never meet his east coast family, but it was obvious through Facebook of the joy he had in his life. My sincere condolescense to his extended family. All I can say is Jim was the best roomie a brother could ask for!!!

  112. August 17th, 2012

    Chris says:

    I just found out that Mr. Gay had passed. What a true shame, I didn’t get the privilege of knowing him, but I thoroughly enjoyed anything he had contributed to.

    His video podcast on the creation of chocolate was great.

    RIP Sir.

  113. September 29th, 2012

    Carolyn Richardson says:

    I remember seeing you many times on my trips to Colonial Williamsburg, you will be missed.
    Prayers and respect to your family.

  114. June 25th, 2013

    Mark says:

    As Revolutionary War re-enactors, my wife and I visit Williamsburg as often as time permits. We would always stop by the palace kitchen. My wife was always full of questions and Jim always took the time to talk to her and show her little tricks and things. He was educational and entertaining. He was also what the spirit of Colonial Williamsburg is all about. He shall be missed greatly.

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