TIME OUT with Tom Goetz….Gay Complex catches the eye
SUMMIT -At first encounter, the lower jaw drops and both eyesbulge. “Golly, gee. Look how beautiful it is. I heard about it butI can’t believe it’s this nice.”
IT, in this case, is the Windsor Gay Youth Complex. Located justoff I-55 at the Summit-West exit, it is a sight to behold. Itincludes three regulation Dixie Youth Baseball League fields andtwo Dixie Boys Baseball League fields, complete with press boxesand a large concession stand.
This outdoor work of art was started by Summit resident WindsorGay in the early 1960s. Located on private land, it is aself-sustaining, non-profit facility dedicated to the youth of PikeCounty and the surrounding area.
Carved out of a wooded area, the Complex is located on 18 acresof land. Gay’s family has been a vital part of its growth since thefirst field was built some 40 years ago. He was honored a few yearsago when the complex was named in his honor.
“It’s a lot of work,” Gay admits. “It’s sort of like running adairy farm seven days a week.”
Children of all ages use the facility. It requires constantmaintenance, starting in early January of each year. There’s lotsof concrete and asphalt which helps make it a first class facility.Numerous state tournaments have been held there, including a WorldSeries.
“We try our best to keep everything in good order,” said Gay. Atireless worker, Gay has spent thousands of hours at the facility,many of them with his family, working side by side.
Last year, Gay, 63, almost died. He contracted pneumonia andthat led to congestive heart failure. He nearly passed away in theMcComb hospital. A dedicated group of physicians responded andbrought him back from death. Electric defibrilators, applied seventimes, brought Gay back to life.
Today, Gay still shows the effects of spending 63 days inMcComb, Jackson and Birmingham hospitals. He lost 42 pounds and allmuscle strength.
“I had no muscles left,” Gay remembered. “I couldn’t hold a pento write my name. I couldn’t tie my shoes. I had to learn how towalk again.”
Obviously, the Good Lord wasn’t ready for Gay to beginconstruction on another sports complex in Heaven. He has made majorstrides on his road to recovery.
Last summer, Gay directed the Complex from his hospital bed. Hisdaughter, Darla; and her husband, John Paulk; shouldered much ofthe daily responsibilities at the baseball park. Gay’s son, David,cuts the grass at the complex.
Gary Martin is like a brother to Gay. “Gary Martin knows what todo at the fields. He got involved 15 years ago. He had three boyswho played baseball.”
Gay said numerous volunteers make the Complex successful. “Wehave so many good people helping us.”
His daughter, Darla, is a baseball veteran. She laughs, “I wasborn and raised there. Our whole family is part of it.”
Darla married her husband in 1984 and they both have beenconsumed by the Complex’s daily routine since then.
“It takes about six months of the year,” said Mrs. Paulk. “Ikind of call it my summer mission work. We love it. We do it forthe kids and baseball.”
Her sister, Lori, lives in Hattiesburg. She knows exactly whereto find the family during baseball season.
Mrs. Paulk said Dixie Youth Baseball is centered aroundsportsmanship and Christian values. The 1987 Summit team receivedthe Sportsmanship Award when it played in the World Series atBartow, Fla.
According to Mrs. Paulk, her main responsibility is supervisingthe concession stand. “One mother, Ellie Busby, is my right andleft arm in the concession stand. She has three boys who have beeninvolved in baseball.”
Family, fellowship and friendship are strong attributes forvolunteers when it comes to running a sports complex. Now Gay hasgrandchildren involved in the program.
“Dad lets us do things with his approval,” said Mrs. Paulk. “Heis happiest at the ballpark. That’s his pride and joy.”
While Gay wrestled with death in the hospital, Darla and Johnran the complex and did the legwork. They always got his approvalbefore making major decisions.
Recalling a situation last summer, Mrs. Paulk joked and said,”We told dad that when he was heavily sedated for 10 days, we madesome decisions. We told him he agreed with us on all of them.”
Gay’s family was ready to follow his footsteps.