Home » Obituaries » Remembrance of the Life of Gaetana ‘Gay’ Lenox CoL

Remembrance of the Life of Gaetana ‘Gay’ Lenox CoL

Posted on September 1, 2020, by Eleanor Craig SL

Gaetana ‘Gay’ Lenox CoL
May 19, 1935 – Sept. 1, 2020

Gay DiCerto Lenox was born in El Cento, Calif., May 19, 1935. She was baptized Gaetana Angela, but was known as Gay. Her parents were Valentino and Angeline Christine DiCerto. Gay had three sisters, Angie, Valerie and Anna, and two brothers, Valentine and Salvatore. Having been Salutatorian in high school, Gay worked her way through St. Mary’s College, South Bend, Ind., where she graduated com laude in 1957 with a bachelor’s in nursing. She met her future husband, Jim Lenox, while he was a student at Notre Dame. They were married Aug. 9, 1958.

After marriage Jim’s work with several national insurance companies took them from Indiana to Massachusetts to Texas, back to Indiana and then to Shreveport, La. As they changed locations, Gay worked in obstetrics and later as a psychiatric nurse. Then she became interested in spirituality and pursued a master’s of divinity at Notre Dame, which led her to work as a hospital chaplain. When living in Shreveport, she was a retreat director and an adjunct faculty member of the Greco Institute. Because she wanted to keep busy, throughout her lifetime Gay was a master quilter, making exquisite quilts. In art she achieved the Master Craftsman Award in
crewel embroidery given by the Embroiderers’ Guild of America and along the way took up pottery and china painting. Somehow, she even found time to write a book.

Gay and Jim had five children: Joseph Paul died in infancy; Steve married
Annette; James Jr. lives in Houston with his wife, Susan; Marie lives in South Bend and Frank with his wife Ann in Massachusetts. In Shreveport, Jim and Gay built a house on the same property as Steve and Annette, which they hoped to leave to their children. Steve and Annette had two girls, Rachel and Jessica, who were constantly in the lives of Gay and Jim and their Shreveport friends, including Loretto Co-members Lillian and
John Moskeland. Through Lillian’s encouragement, Gay sought Loretto co-membership, too. Her granddaughter, Rachel, attended Gay’s co-member celebration in 2012 and was deeply moved, expressing gratitude for Loretto’s welcome of herself and her partner, Jeannine.

Gay and Jim became fast friends of the Moskelands. Meeting for the first time at church, they were immediately close friends. Gay became a part of Lillian’s Jubilee support group soon after Gay arrived in Shreveport. Gay and Jim gathered every Sunday after church with Lillian and John and a group of friends who created a spirituality center together with funds they pooled. The center provided people a place where they could gather to discuss their inner lives and search for God. The center had just started building a labyrinth when Gay had a severely disabling stroke. The circle of friends took their weekly meetings to Gay, even when she was in a nursing

Jim visited Gay every day and also took Gay to Mass every Sunday.
Being unable to quilt after the stroke, Gay began to paint, with Jim’s help. Jim, also a Loretto co-member, continues to live among his children in Shreveport.

Lillian Moskeland wrote of Gay: “She was a dear and close friend who gave
lovingly, selflessly to all. Intelligent, talented, caring and open-minded —those are adjectives I would use for Gay. We had tea and conversation every week — presumably to learn German, really to understand our spirituality and mentor each other. John would often say, ‘I don’t hear any German, ladies.’

“Gay saw Loretto as another avenue for service in a community which opened its heart to all persons. She saw the openness with which her granddaughter and her partner were (welcomed with) at her reception into Loretto as co-member. Gay understood she was in good company.

“You can tell I miss her even after seven years of physical absence. Her stroke left her unable to participate in her daily life, but her large heart never wavered; unable to speak or walk she participated with her presence when our spiritual growth group (Jubilee) gathered at the nursing home.”

The information in the following obituary was provided courtesy of the Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Shreveport, La.

Gaetana ‘Gay’ Lenox CoL
May 19, 1935 – Sept. 1, 2020

Gaetana Angela DiCerto Lenox was born on May 19, 1935, to Valentino DiCerto and Angeline Christine DiCerto in El Centro, Calif., and passed away Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Shreveport, La.

She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. She studied hard as a youngster graduating as Salutatorian in high school, then she worked her way through college graduating cum laude from St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., with a bachelor of science degree and Registered Nurse designation. She became a hospital head nurse and supervisor in obstetrics and pioneered a new thing called “natural childbirth” in the late 1950s.

Later, she branched out into psychiatric nursing where she was on the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, and later at Charles River Hospital in Boston. In art she achieved the Master Craftsman Award in crewel embroidery given by the Embroiderers’ Guild of America and along the way took up pottery, china painting and quilt making. When she was in her 50s she was given an opportunity to realize her dream of obtaining a degree in theology. So at age 53 she took and passed the college graduate school entrance exam called the GRE and was admitted into the University of Notre Dame’s master of divinity program and obtained her “M. Div” degree in 1992. She then went on to become a hospital chaplain, an adjunct faculty member of the Greco Institute in Shreveport, La., a retreat director and a spiritual director in Keithville, La. Daily she followed the way of life of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites and Co-membership with the Sisters of Loretto. Somehow, she even found time to write a book.

Gay is preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Salvatore DiCerto, and son, Joseph Paul Lenox. She is survived by her husband, James N. Lenox, Sr.; children, Steve Lenox (Annette), James N. Lenox Jr. (Susan), Marie Lenox and Frank Lenox (Ann); grandchildren, James N. Lenox III (Marianna), Andrew Lenox (Arielle), Amanda Lenox, Jennifer Burdick, Rachel Lenox (Jeannine), Jessica Lenox, Christopher Lenox, Catherine Lenox, Allison Lenox and great-grandchildren, Alyssah Simmons, Rose Lenox and Alexandra Lenox; siblings, Angie Rudolph, Valerie Kachur, Anna DeBoard Johnson (Roy), Valentine DiCerto (Cheryl) and many nephews and nieces.

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Gay Sept. 8 at at St. Mary of the Pines Catholic Church in Shreveport, La. An all-night vigil began the evening of Sept. 7, at the church. Celebrating the Mass was Rev. Michael Thang’wa F.M.H. Final interment date will be determined at a future date at Calvary Cemetery in Niles, Mich. Honoring Gay as pallbearers were Jenny Burdick, Alyssah Simmons, Rachel Lenox, Jessica Lenox, George Alan Kachur and Tony DeBoard.

For those wishing to send memorials in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231.


Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. Now retired, she still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.

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