WEST PEORIA - Albert "Al" Daniel (Grzebieniak) Gray, 87, of Piedmont, S.C., recently of West Peoria, Ill., passed away at home on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, of natural causes.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Molly Lepley Gray; three sons, Daniel (Kristine Murray) Gray of West Peoria, Ill., Randall "Rain" (Shanti) Gray of Culver City, Calif., and Allen (Judy Castleberry) Gray of Mendocino, Calif.; and one daughter, Carolyn (Ben) Linstead Lance of Piedmont, S.C. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Ryan Linstead, Camden Linstead and Christopher Lance, all of Piedmont, S.C., and Alaya Gray of Culver City, Calif.; and one great-granddaughter, Mafi Wilde of Medford, Ore.
Albert was born on Nov. 7, 1926, in Chicago, Ill., to Wladislaw "Walter" and Anna Glowka Grzebieniak. The middle son of seven boys, he is survived by two brothers, A.T. "Rudy" (Jean) Gray of Kettle Falls, Wash., and Walter (June) Grzebieniak of Chicago, Ill.
He was predeceased by his parents and brothers Edward, Edmund, Henry and Richard.
Albert grew up in Chicago and graduated from Crane Technical High School before serving in World War II in the Pacific. Upon his return from service, he attended Wright College and Bradley University, where he was a member of Rho Delta Fraternity, the Bradley debate team and met the future Mrs. Gray. He also attended Northwestern University.
Making a career in advertising sales, Albert worked for publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Business Week, Sunset, American Home and the McFadden Group in San Francisco, New York City, Des Moines, Los Angeles and Chicago.
He was a member of the Universalist Unitarian Church. Active in several human rights organizations, he was awarded the Civil Libertarian Award by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
He distinguished himself as a member of Toastmasters International by winning numerous awards. His latest membership was with the Pimiteoui Toastmasters Club of Peoria, Ill. He was also active in the Wood Worker's Club of Peoria.
In addition to public speaking and woodturning, Albert enjoyed playing canasta and the piano.
A private remembrance ceremony will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at NAMI.org.