Eighteenth Regent (2004-2007)

Gay Hart was born in Toronto to Ralph A. Hart and Laura M. E. Harvey. She lived in Bombay, Sydney, and Paris before entering boarding school in the United States. Her father was president of Colgate-Palmolive International before becoming president and chief executive officer—and finally chair—of the Heublein food-and-alcoholic-beverage-import company.

In 1959 Gay graduated from Sweet Briar College, in Sweet Briar, Virginia, and married Stanley Gaines, who became chair and chief executive officer of GNB Technologies, a Princeton, New Jersey-based automotive-and-industrial-battery firm.

Vice Regent for Florida

A portrait of George Washington that would be placed in classrooms nationwide through the George Washington Goes Back to School project initiated by Mrs. Gaines. MVLA.

A portrait of George Washington that would be placed in classrooms nationwide through the George Washington Goes Back to School project initiated by Mrs. Gaines. MVLA.

Mrs. Gaines was elected Vice Regent for Florida in 2000 and served on the committee that oversaw design and construction of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center. She was active in the To Keep Him First capital campaign to create these facilities; ultimately, it far surpassed its original $60-million goal, raising more than $116 million.

Determined to strengthen the first president’s presence in the nation’s schools, Mrs. Gaines raised funds to ensure distribution of the George Washington Biography Lesson—developed in the 1980s—to every fifth-grade classroom in Florida. She also spearheaded a campaign to endow participation by Florida educators in the annual Mount Vernon Teachers’ Institute, an intensive summertime program of lectures, study, and discussions at the estate begun in 1999.

Regent

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visiting George Washington's tomb at Mount Vernon. MVLA.

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visiting George Washington's tomb at Mount Vernon. MVLA.

Elected Regent in October 2004, Mrs. Gaines initiated a strategic planning process aimed at providing direction for the Association over the succeeding 15 years. Three years later, she spearheaded George Washington Goes Back to School, a successful ongoing campaign to return portraits of the Father of Our Country to classrooms nationwide. She also oversaw the completion and October 2006 debut of Mount Vernon’s state-of-the-art orientation center and museum and education center.

As Regent, Mrs. Gaines welcomed President and Mrs. George W. Bush to the estate on Washington’s 275th birthday in February 2007. That November, at her invitation, the president held a summit meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the Mansion’s large dining room.

When her tenure ended, she resumed her role as Vice Regent for Florida and remains active in the Association as well as in many charitable, civic, artistic, and political organizations.

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