Story updated with information about an Oct. 8 memorial service in Wait Chapel.
Gail O’Day, former dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, died Sept. 22, nearly four years after the onset of symptoms later diagnosed as a glioblastoma brain tumor, the type of aggressive cancer that recently took the life of Sen. John McCain.
O’Day, 63, stepped down in June from the post she inherited from founding dean Bill Leonard in 2010. She continued full time as dean for two years after her first brain surgery in 2015, integrating her treatments into her daily routines. Six weeks after her second surgery in 2017, she led her last hooding and commencement ceremonies.
Ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ, O’Day was a world-renowned scholar for research on the Gospel of John, the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the Bible and preaching and the history of biblical interpretation.
“Gail O’Day was deeply committed to both scholarship and academic integrity,” WFU President Nathan Hatch said in a statement. “She had an unwavering dedication to students and proved to be a deft and able leader of faculty. I am grateful for all the ways that she was responsible for growing our School of Divinity in both stature and scope.”
Survivors include her husband, Thomas Edward Frank, her mother and four sisters.
A celebration of life memorial service is scheduled 1:30 p.m. on Monday Oct. 8 in Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest Reynolda campus. A live stream will be available at https://livestream.com/wfu/gailoday.
Memorial gifts may be designated for the Gail R. O’Day Beloved Community Fund of the Wake Forest School of Divinity, and mailed to Wake Forest University, Office of University Advancement, P. O. Box 7227, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, or donated online.