I learned this week that Gail Cash died last month. Somehow I missed this story about her death in the North Raleigh News. Gail died from cardiac arrest while recovering from back surgery. She was 54.
Gail and her husband Taylor (pictured left) owned Taylor's BP gas station on Six Forks Road, just north of Interstate 540, a gas station/convenience store/wine shop. The tagline on their store says it all: Taylor's: Fine Wine Live Bait.
One of my first feature stories as a food writer was about the Cashes' crazy store but also about how the couple transformed their store as the community changed around them during the last 30 years. (I've attached a copy of my story below if you would like to read it. They also appeared on The Story with Dick Gordon [just click the link to hear the interview]. To see more photos of the couple and the store, go HERE.)
It was obvious when I met Taylor and Gail Cash how much they loved each other. I had a hard time taking notes because they finished each other's sentences. They spent every day working long shifts together at the store. Taylor was the dreamer and Gail handled the details. Without a computer, Gail paid the store's bills, handled payroll and did 80 percent of the ordering. Their only break from each other: they drove separately and cherished their lonely commutes.
At the time of Gail's death, they had been together 32 years and married for 30 years.
I don't think I have ever met two people more suited to the careers they had chosen: they were the ultimate hosts, greeting their regular customers by name, quick with a joke or a laugh. Together, the couple's hospitality made that store so much more than a place to buy gas, a cup of coffee or a pack of cigarettes.
What I didn't know is that the Cashes were very involved with the A.E. Finley YMCA, a short distance from their store. After Gail Cash's death, her husband decided to create an endowment in her name. (More about that later.)
This week, Taylor Cash sat down to explain what made the Y so important to their family. Not only did Taylor's father have a long history with the Y at the location on Hillsborough street, the Finley Y in North Raleigh helped Taylor's son Ben when the then 10-year-old boy needed it. Taylor's mariage to Gail was his second. Divorce is never easy on children and Taylor says the Y's camp counselors really helped his son.
"When he was having a bad day, they just figured out what to do to make it better," Taylor says. "The counselors are caffeinated on life or something."
For the last three years, the couple has chaired the Y's annual fundraising campaign. Initially Taylor was asked to be chair but he told the Y administration: "When you get me, you get us." As with most things in their lives, the Cashes were a team.
Whenever Gail wanted to show off the Y to a potential donor, she would take them to see two programs: Community Hope, a children's literacy program that works with Raleigh Housing Authority residents; and Camp Grace, a camp for children with autism.
After Gail's death, Taylor decided to start an endowment in her name to support those two programs. So far, he has raised $15,000 toward the $50,000 that is needed.
If you would like to make a donation to the Gail P. Cash Memorial Scholarship Fund, here's where to send donations:
A.E. Finley YMCA
c/o Tony Campione or Beth Brooks
9216 Baileywick Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27615.
Taylor's Wine Shop
c/o Gail P Cash Memorial Scholarship Fund
10005 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC 27615
For more information, go to www.remembergailcash.com
(I will probably always cry now hearing the John Prine-Iris Duet duet: In Spite of Ourselves that cues up when you open this website.)