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Thomas GRAY (1929 - 2013)

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GRAY

Thomas Gray, 84, of Fort Thomas, Ky., rode his beloved bicycle (or perhaps a glider) up to heaven on Monday, September 16, finally free of the Parkinson's disease that had dogged him for 20 years. He was met by his sister, Helen Gray Shattuck; and his parents, Freda and James. Tom was born Sept. 4, 1929, in Lakewood, OH. He would want us not to cry for him but to tell a joke or a funny story or perhaps make an off-color remark, because he was a man who liked to smile and laugh and embrace life to the fullest. That, and the love of his life, Gloria Root Gray, who he was married to for 62 years, is what kept him going the past two decades. Theirs was a passionate marriage that began when the two went on a double date - with others as dates - to the 1946 county fair in Berea, Ohio. Nothing kept them apart after that. He graduated from Rocky River High School and Gloria visited him at The Citadel, where he graduated in 1950 . They married Feb. 17, 1951, in Cleveland. Within four years they had three children, Amy (Tom Hills), James (Nancy), and Kathy (Dennis Mahoney), and by 1956 moved to Ft. Thomas after Tom became a manufacturer's agent for Leviton. His easy smile, friendly nature and strong work ethic made him a top salesman and his home office meant he often was the only father at daytime school events. The surprise baby, Tisha (Joe Bruemmer), came in 1960, completing the family he was so proud of and who he supported with intense love, empathy and education. Tom could repair just about anything and was the fix-it man for the neighborhood, church and friends. He was a prankster, a musical theatre aficionado and loved to tool around in his convertibles and hit the ski slopes. He drove his family each summer to national park campgrounds from coast to coast and enjoyed the Ohio River with his family on their houseboat. He led them on the Morning Glory bike ride through Cincinnati, learned to fly a glider, helped start the American Field Service student exchange at Highlands and taught his family to repair what was broken rather than throw it out. AFS student Glenda Anderson from New Zealand became his fourth daughter, and he was "Pop" to his adoring grandchildren: Kit Gray, Molly Steele; Emily Whittaker, Loren and Madeline Foster, Ryan, Stephanie and Abby Hills; and Lydia and Lucy Bruemmer, and great grandson Thomas Gray-Torsell. They learned the lesson of grace from Tom, a lesson taught by the graceful way he handled each hour, day and year with his Parkinson's. Tom fondly remembered the WWII years when he lived in Beaufort, N.C., with his mom and sister Jeanne, as his father served in the Navy. Tom served in the Army Reserves for 5 years. The family would like to thank the wonderful people who smoothed the way the last few years, especially caregivers Nancy, Mindy and Niccole, and close friends Ken and Corrine White and Gloria Fausz. Tom also is survived by his sister Jeanne of Brunswick; nieces Freda Sue Balash, Gretchen Rhodes, Nancy Shattuck Miller and nephews Charlie Hoffman, Gene Root. To further the research of Parkinson's disease, Tom donated his body to the UC College of Medicine Neurology Dept. A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m., Sat., Sept. 21, First Presbyterian Church, 220 S. Fort Thomas Ave., Ft. Thomas, followed by a celebratory noon luncheon. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to First Presbyterian Church, Ft. Thomas, Ky., or Gardner Center Fund for Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders, PO Box 670570, Cincinnati, OH 45267. Online condolences may be sent at www.dmefuneral.com. Dobbling, Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Homes serving the family.

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Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer from Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, 2013
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