Regulars mourn loss of shop owner

CorrespondentJanuary 16, 2011 

Regular customers at Taylor's BP and Wine Shop on Six Forks Road are mourning the death of the shop's co-owner, a woman known for her kindness and for her tireless support of the YMCA.

Gail Cash, 54, died unexpectedly Jan. 9 while recovering from back surgery.

"You can feel she is gone. Something is missing from the atmosphere of this place," said customer John Maxfield, who stops in regularly for coffee and conversation.

Cash and her husband Taylor bought the store nine days after getting married and operated it side by side for the past 30 years.

"She's the one that really runs this place," Maxfield said, "and Taylor will tell you that, too."

The business has always been a team effort, with the couple spending 23 and a half hours together every day, said son Ben Cash, who also works at the store.

They each had 30 minutes alone because they preferred to drive separately to work, he said.

Cash ran much of the business from a small office in the back of the store.

She didn't use a computer. She kept track of income and expenses on paper using only a calculator.

"I just sat here yesterday," Ben Cash said Wednesday. "I didn't know what to do."

Envelopes still sit on Cash's desk with sticky notes directing their delivery. She had worked a few weeks ahead because she knew she'd be away from the store recuperating from back surgery.

Doctors called the operation a success and Cash was wriggling her legs and toes soon afterward. She was in the hospital recovering when she went into cardiac arrest on Jan. 9.

For her customers, Cash was more than a face behind the counter.

"I miss her so much," Maxfield said. "I just can't wrap my hands around this."

Cash will also be missed at the A.E. Finley YMCA, where she was a volunteer on behalf of the "We Build People" program, the fundraising arm of the Y that provides scholarships.

The Cashes had been part of the YMCA since son Ben attended camp before the buildings were constructed on the Baileywick Road campus.

Cash and her husband have co-chaired the annual fundraising campaign since 2007.

"We were blessed to have an advocate for us out in the community who is passionate about what we do," said Beth Brooks, director of volunteer relations for the Finley Y.

Cash frequently brought friends and donors by the YMCA, Brooks said.

"It was important to her to show people the smiles on the kids' faces ... so they knew the difference they were making through their donations," she said.

In March 2010, Gail and Taylor Cash received a leadership award from the Triangle Y for their service.

Taylor Cash has stayed away from the store since his wife's death. His son says he is "trying to get through" without his wife.

Meanwhile, customers have stopped by to offer their condolences.

Ben Cash said that included one man who remembered when he was out of work and Cash wouldn't let him pay for his coffee.

That customer has a job again now and thought he ought to drop by with a donation to "We Build People" in her memory, Ben Cash said.

The family says that's what Cash wanted and they hope others do the same.

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