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Robert Gray

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Robert James Gray 1922 - 2012 "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children... To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,... to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson You succeeded Dad! As of Friday, February 10, there is one less kind and gentle person living in Bennington and beyond. On that day, Robert James Gray, at the age of 89, valiantly concluded his well-lived life while surrounded by his family. Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1922, he grew up playing stickball, baseball, football, golfing and caddying, swimming in the Ohio River, and in his spare time, finished grammar and high school. In 1943, his sense of patriotism led him to enlist in the Navy. He attended the Naval Flight School, rising to the rank of Lieutenant J.G. Prior to being shipped out to Carmel, Calif., to join the Pacific Theater as a carrier pilot, he married the love of his life, Joyce Louise Spangenberg. As one of the fortunate returning World War II veterans, he took advantage of the GI Bill, working days while attending night school at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ten years and four children later, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He worked for Westinghouse in their burgeoning nuclear division, working on nuclear reactors for power plants and was part of their engine design team focused on space exploration. He also worked on the propulsion system for the nuclear submarine USS Skate, the first submarine to surface at the North Pole. Though not a native Vermonter, he always loved Vermont's beauty and valued Vermonters' sense of individualism and hardiness. He showed his appreciation for his adopted community by volunteering for years at the Bennington Road Race, Prospect Mountain Cross Country Ski Races, and very proudly, he volunteered for 17 years, putting in over 4,000 hours in the SVMC Gift Shop. In 2008, he was honored as SVMC Volunteer of the Year. He also followed, and avidly supported, the MAU Cross Country Ski and Soccer teams. His many interests included collecting and restoring antiques (primarily his 200+ clocks), tending and studying animals, great and small, (particularly Rufus and Smokie), dabbling in horticulture and though quiet, he always enjoyed a spirited political debate. However, his most beloved interest was his family and their activities. He was loved, and is survived, by his four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was very proud of his three sons, Jeffery, married to Cassandra Gray of Palm Bay, Fla., and their two sons, Carson and Taylor; Douglas, married to Bobbie Gray of York Harbor, Maine, and their son, Joshua, of San Francisco, Calif.; and Gary of Pittsburgh, Pa., and his two sons and daughter, Philip is married to Danielle Romanetti of Alexandria, Va., and both Aaron and Karen Gray reside in West Palm Beach, Fla. He had one daughter, Pamela Coffield, who lives in Bennington with her husband, Terrell, and their three daughters, Rachel, married to Tim White of Hopkinton, N.H., Jessica, married to Michael van Eyck of Bondville, Vt., and Lauren, married to Keith Malloy of Santa Barbara, Calif. The newest apples of his eye were his three great- granddaughters, Eden and Tanis White of New Hampshire, and Millie Lou Malloy of California. They brought him much joy when he truly needed it. We would like to give a very special thanks to his extended Bennington family, Brent, MaryHope and Caroline Coffield and to his good friends, the Loys, Cichanowskis, Goodines and Cannings who he considered to be "just like family," and with whom he shared many memorable holidays. We also need to mention with our sincerest appreciation, his wonderful end of life caregivers at the Watson House under the direction of Kathy Saterthwaite. Special thanks to Kathy, Kassie, Jess Jeannie, Tia, Wendy, Lindsay, and Carol, also to the Bayada Nurses, Rhonda and Maria. You all helped to make the last days of his life pleasant, meaningful and dignified. We were blessed to have known such warm, caring women. FUNERAL NOTICE: Services will be held at a later date. Burial will take place at the Gerald B H Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery where he will receive full Military Honors. Memorial donations may be made to: Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, c/o Development Office, Southwestern Vermont Health Care, 100 Hospital Drive, Box 41, Bennington, VT 05201

Published in Bennington Banner on Feb. 14, 2012
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