We have lost a leading light.
Jay Gaynor, Director of Historic Trades, died suddenly yesterday morning. Needless to say, all of us tradesmen and women here are in shock.
Jay possessed a consummate knowledge in his chosen field of historic technology. But he wore his erudition easily. And he encouraged us all to know more and find out more. But not just having information was enough. He always looked for ways to make giving that knowledge fun, interesting and very cool.
He was interested in everything, from tools to his hobby of longbow shooting. And he was generous with his time and his knowledge. And he had a disarming sense of humor that kept us knowing that we should be serious… but not deadly.
Probably his singular achievements, from our point of view: the 1995 award-winning exhibition Tools: Working Wood in the Eighteenth Century with its accompanying book he co-authored with Nancy Hagedorn, all this done while he worked as Curator of Mechanical Arts for CW.
And of course, his major brainchild: the Woodworking Symposium, held every January for the last 16 years, bringing so many of us, professionals, history buffs, and hobbyists together.
Most importantly, he expected and trusted all of us here to be professional and thorough, as employees, as artisans, as historians, as people. That was how you earned his respect and his gratitude.
Jay was initially reluctant to take the reins of Director. He enjoyed his work as a curator tremendously. But as he subsequently proved, he was uniquely qualified for his position skippering this huge ship of Historic Trades, by his knowledge, his generosity and professional demeanor. All with a light, but firm touch.
And who can forget his awful woodworker jokes sprinkled throughout each symposium session! And the requisite ceremonial removal of the necktie that signaled, “We’re on!” at the start of each one (applause every time) for the attendees. And for us presenters, it signaled, “Here we go, oh gosh, we’re in trouble now!”
Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please rise up, drink a parting glass, and honor the man.
Thoughts and prayers for his friends and family.
Your comments and remembrances are welcome below.
The Hay Shop.