In memory: Richard Gay Israel

Richard Gay Israel, passed away peacefully on April 16. Gay was born November 16, 1950, in Americus, GA, and grew up on a peanut farm.  He had a love for sports, specifically baseball and football, in which he starred during his high school years. He received a baseball scholarship at ABAC Junior College in Tifton, GA. Following that with an athletic scholarship at Appalachian State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in physical education.  In his junior year, the Appalachian State Mountaineers earned a trip to the NAIA College World Series where Gay starred as the center fielder.

Richard Gay Israel, Department Head, Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University

While still a student at Appalachian State, he met his wife Karan at New Hope Baptist Church in Earl, N.C. Their first date was a sledding trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They married in 1973 and both attended Appalachian State where Gay received his Master’s degree. In 1974 he furthered his graduate work receiving a Doctorate in exercise physiology from West Virginia University.

Gay started his career at Howard University in Washington, DC, establishing the Howard University Human Performance Lab. He then moved to East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, in 1981 founding the institution’s nationally recognized Human Performance Lab. He founded and directed the Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Identification/Reduction Program. During those years, Gay and Karan welcomed two sons into their family. Gay taught his sons baseball, enjoyment of the outdoors, especially fishing and hunting, and even yard work. He rarely missed any of his sons sporting events.

Accepting the Department Head position at Colorado State University, he moved his family to Fort Collins in 1996.  While at CSU he established the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory, which holds the distinction of being a CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence. Gay’s 18 year tenure as department head was characterized by a tripling of undergraduate enrollment, the development of a new Ph.D. program, and fourfold growth in research expenditures.

Gay was blessed to have grown up in a Christian family, and he received Christ personally as a teen. He has fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith and has inspired many especially during his cancer battle. Gay is home with the LORD today.

Gay is survived by his wife Karan and sons: Wes (Lauren) of Denver, and Alex (Megan), grandson, Graham, of Highlands Ranch, brothers Dan Israel of Raleigh, NC, and Renza Israel of Pine Mountain, GA.

Gay is predeceased by his parents, Alva (Scrap) and Marie Israel, and sister, Judy Burgess.

A delebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 20 at Faith Evangelical Free Church, 3920 South Shields Street, Fort Collins, 80526. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts toward an academic scholarship established in Gay’s name may be made online  or mailed to the Colorado State University Foundation, 410 University Services Center, Fort Collins, CO 80523-9100, with “Richard Gay Israel HES Scholarship Endowment #72705” in the memo line.