With full and grateful hearts the family announce the death of Eldon Hay on September 17 in Sackville, New Brunswick. Eldon Roy Hay was born on December 15, 1931 on a farm in Marvelville, a small community near Ottawa. Eldon was the middle child of three children of George Hay and Anna Carscadden. He was predeceased by his parents, his older brother, Keith, and his younger sister, Kathleen and her husband, TonyLamont.
Eldon is survived by his second wife, Anne Pirie, and their children: James, Alex, and Donald (Clare Bustin) Pirie-Hay. He is also survived by his first wife, Vivien (Beach) Hicks, and their children: Keith (Susan) Hay, Heather Hay (Bill Piggott), Ron Hay (Hilaire St-Pierre), Nancy Hay and by grandchildren: Lindsay (Nuni) Müller, Sandy Hay, and Mari Piggott, and by great-grandchildren: Shasta and Sebastien Müller.
Eldon completed degrees from Carleton University and Queen’s University, and then travelled to Scotland to further pursue his love of learning, completing a PhD in Theology from Glasgow University. In 1962, he joined the Department of Religious Studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, where he served as head of the Department and retired as Professor Emeritus in1997.
Throughout his academic career Eldon wrote scholarly articles on theology, inter-religious dialogue, process thought, and Covenanter church history. He received a Paul Paré award for outstanding contributions in teaching, research, and scholarship. After retirement Eldon continued his research in Canadian Covenanter history and local church history, for which he received honours and awards.
Eldon’s recognized wisdom came from experience as an ordained minister of The United Church of Canada, as a congregational minister and as a prison chaplain at the Dorchester Penitentiary in Dorchester, NB. Eldon served as minister to congregations in Point de Bute and Jolicure, NB, and at Central United Church,Moncton,NB. Over the years he was a member and chaired several local, regional, and national committees of The United Church.
During his career as an ordained minister, scholar, professor, author, and counsellor Eldon impacted many persons. He faced critics and controversies because of his human rights advocacy, and from time to time (!) penned a letter or three to the editor. Eldon always stood by his theological beliefs with courage and strength of mind, assuming a significant leadership role by founding and leading the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People (PFLAG) chapters in Moncton and in Amherst, and serving as the first president of PFLAG Canada.
In 1997, he was awarded the New Brunswick Human Rights Award for his tireless efforts in raising awareness of gay acceptance. Never strident, always thoughtful, Eldon Hay was often among the first people many turned to for insight and action when it came to gay rights issues.
His fierce support of the LGBTQ community continued until the last weeks of his life, as evidenced when, wearing his trademark rainbow hat, Eldon sought out NB Premier Brian Gallant to advocate for transgendered issues at Moncton Pride on August 26.
In 2001, Eldon was named the winner of the Queen’s University Alumni Association Award; in 2002, he received Volunteer of the Year award from Affirm United. In October 2003, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2004, the degree of Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) was conferred on Eldon by Queen’s University. And on September 15, 2017, he was awarded the Senate of Canada Sesquicentennial Medal.
Eldon’s inspiring leadership and distinguished service impacted the church and extended into the community at large. Always attuned to the rights of marginalized groups, Eldon championed a more tolerant and just society – and, as recognized by the Order of Canada: "He desired a better country".
Family members invite others to join in celebrating the life of Eldon Hay on Friday, September 22, at 11am at Mount Allison University Chapel.
Visitation at Sackville United Church, 110 Main Street, Sackville, NB on Thursday, September 21, from 2 to 4pm and 7 to 9pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to PFLAG Canada, The United Church Mission and Service Fund, or a charity of your choice.
Arrangements are under the care and supervision of Jones Funeral Home, 70 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB (506-364-1300).