Robert Gray was born to Ernest and Luella Gray on Dec. 29, 1948, in Albion, Mich. Robert was the fourth child and only son in a family of sisters. Bob attended Albion Public Schools and later Albion College before earning a master's degree in education from Western Michigan University.
As a child, Bob spent his summers in Bay View. Bay View became a lifelong second home with good friends and family, morning tennis games, and chilly water becoming staples in his summers. Bob even managed to survive sharing a cramped cottage, Grayhaven, with four sisters. Later, Bay View became the place where Bob shared memories of his own childhood with his grandchildren. Jonathan learned early on how to recognize a Petoskey stone and the intricacies of the game of tennis, Bob taught Christian how to ride a bike safely through Bay View, built sandcastles alongside Isabella, and made daily treks to the waterfront to chaperone Christian and Isabella's afternoon swim lessons.
Sports Illustrated covers with generations of young Albion minds.
Robert and Sharon welcomed a daughter, Erica Elizabeth, into their family in 1977. In 1980, their second child, David Robert, completed the family. From the beginning of the union between Robert and Sharon, Bob was a loving husband, caring friend, the family handyman, a wonderful grandfather, and later an extraordinary father who loved his family fiercely and would do anything for his children and grandchildren.
Upon retirement from an accomplished career in teaching, Bob and Sharon discovered a love of traveling the world. Bob and Sharon would choose a destination, upon which Bob would pull out all the planning and guidebooks to determine exactly what attractions and historical landmarks should be visited. Even after much joking from his children, mainly his daughter-in-law, Bob would just chuckle, give a look with his trademark twinkle in his eye, and begin planning his and Sharon's next traveling adventure. Bob and Sharon's love for seeing the world led them to Russia, where Bob noted that there were a great number of churches, Germany, Austria, Africa -- where Bob was the travel anomaly, as the locals couldn't get over how tall Bob was! While seeing the world was both fun and enlightening, Bob also loved to stay closer to home and spend time with Erica, in both New York and more recently, Austin, Texas, and Bob made monthly visits to David and Tasha, but the true intent behind the visits to Indianapolis was to see his three grandchildren whom he adored and whose antics always brought a smile to his face.
While Bob will be remembered and loved by many, his memory will be cherished by his wife and best friend of 38 years, Sharon Gray; daughter, Erica Elizabeth, of Austin, Texas; son, David Robert (Natasha), of Indianapolis; grandchildren, Jonathan David, Christian Nathaniel, and Isabella Grace (Indianapolis, Ind). Bob is also survived by his sisters, Mary Gray of Taos, N.M., Martha (Fred) Gray Horn of Denver, Colo., and Elizabeth Gray of Ann Arbor, Mich. In addition, Bob is survived by a host of nieces, nephews, and great friends. A sister, Jane Gray Fahey, father, Ernest Dobson Gray, and mother, Luella Elizabeth Gray, preceded Bob in death.
According to his wishes, cremation has taken place. Visitation for family and friends will be noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday Nov. 28, at the Erie Street Chapel of the J. Kevin Tidd Funeral Home, 208 West Erie Street, Albion, Mich. 49224.
A memorial service will be 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the funeral home with the Rev. Walter H. Nichols Jr. officiating.
Arrangements have been entrusted to J. Kevin Tidd Funeral Home in Albion.
Memorial contributions are suggested to:
Ernie Gray Recreation Endowment Fund, Bay View Association, P.O. Box 503, Bay View, Mich. 49770; or First United Methodist Church, 600 East Michigan Ave., Albion, Mich. 49224.