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Versailles lawyer, sports enthusiast

James L. "Jim" Gay, a lawyer who had a love for sports, died of complications from cancer Wednesday at his home in Versailles. He was 70.

A lawyer since 1965, Mr. Gay practiced law in Versailles and Lexington for several decades before taking a job as director for administrative law judges with the state attorney general's office. His career also included stints as Versailles city police judge and city attorney.

To many Woodford Countians, he was best known for doing color commentary for Woodford County High School football and basketball games on WJMM radio. He did that for more than 30 years, stepping down in 2006.

Mr. Gay also played a variety of sports, and many people got tips on how to play a better game of golf or tennis or some other sport from him, according to those who knew him. He played football and basketball at Centre College, coached boys' basketball at Woodford County Junior High School as a young man, and coached recreation youth football, basketball and baseball in the county.

"I played twice with him when he had a hole-in-one in golf," said longtime friend Bill Ahern.

"He actually tried out with the Cincinnati Reds in baseball," said Mr. Gay's son, Jonathan Gay.

Mr. Gay was a former member of the Woodford County Parks and Recreation board and was instrumental in getting the Woodford County High School football stadium built.

A member of a pioneer Woodford County family, he was a graduate of Versailles High School, Centre and the University of Kentucky College of Law. He was credited with bringing racial diversity to the boys' basketball team at Woodford County Junior High, where he taught and coached before he decided to go to law school.

Over the years he served as an elder at Versailles Presbyterian Church and was active in the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and Jaycees. He also was involved in politics on the state and local level and active in the Kentucky League of Cities.

"He was very active in everything in the community" and "awful proud" of his grandchildren, Ahern said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Gay is survived by wife, Peggy Craig Gay; three other sons, Jamey Gay, Joe Gay and Butch Burden; two sisters; and seven grandchildren.

Arrangements were pending at Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home in Versailles. Memorial gifts are suggested to Centre College or Versailles Presbyterian Church.

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