FORT BELKNAP Emery F. Gray, died fighting diabetes and congestive heart failure Saturday, March 2, at his home in Billings.
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Wake service is Sunday, March 3, at the family home on Ocean Hill and Rosary is 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Ft Belknap Sacred Heart Church. Funeral service is 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Harlem High School. Arrangements have been made with Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.
Emery, a proud member of the Gros Ventre Tribe, was born on Oct. 25, 1945, at Ft. Belknap Agency. Emery was raised by his parents, Myrtle and Roosevelt Gray and was also raised by his maternal grandmother, Clementine Horse Capture and Aunt Grace Horse Capture Trinder. Emery's birth father was Ascension Solis from Kennedy, Texas and he was so happy and proud to meet many wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins from the Solis family in Texas.
Emery enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in Kansas City, Mo. on Dec. 17, 1965. He served in South Vietnam with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at DaNang Airbase near the DMZ zone. He was honorably discharged in December 1967. He was proud to be a Marine.
He attended college at Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kan. receiving a 2 year Business Diploma. He also attended Northern Montana College and later attended and graduated from the University of Montana earning a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. Emery worked for Mt State Highway Dept, US Forest Service, Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He retired after 35 years of government service.
Emery was the God Father to many children, and some of the first were Bradley Hawley and Mary Fran Plumage. Special friends who have passed on were Jim Owens, Ernest Crantz, Leo Brockie and Summers Horn.
Emery had a great love of children and volunteered countless hours organizing the childrens' activities of little league and soccer. As a child, he had fond memories of Agency Halloween parties and so as an adult he was instrumental in organizing an annual Halloween party until his health no longer allowed it. Emery held season tickets to Griz football games and loved his tailgate parking spot. He loved fall because of hunting and Griz football games. He followed the Griz to Chattanooga, Tenn. to watch the Griz win the national title.
He was a diehard supporter of the Harlem Wildcats and boasted of their State Class B basketball title in 2002.
Emery had a great love of reading all the newspapers, listening to country music and camping with his grandchildren in his fifth wheel. Emery also loved dancing and would dance at night in his living room with his wife to country music. Emery didn't know how to hold back, he loved life, loved his family and especially his grandchildren. Teasing was his specialty and if he knew of any secrets about you, you'd better look out because he would wait to tell it when there was an audience. He loved to tease children when they were upset about something and his words would be "Don't worry, be happy" He said, "This is what I believe as I am grateful to live in this country and enjoy what it has to offer." Emery always kept an eye out for kids who didn't have money to get into a game or money to buy concessions. He paid for many tickets and bought lots of snacks for any child who had wishful looking eyes. He stopped to help folks who had car trouble, sometimes buying needed items or making endless trips to find one of his mechanic friends to lend a hand. He knew he could count on Greg Sears and Ron Youngbear. Emery had so many relatives and friends, if we missed any, please accept our apology and know that Emery loved each and every one of you.
Emery was married to Judith A. Gray on Dec. 11, 1971, and his children are, Lorraine Ilean Hill Gladstone (Chet), Bernice F. and Jason F Gray and grandchildren, Terron, Hunter, Coleman and Sonny Gray, brothers, Wilbur and Don Gray, Candalario Solis; adopted brothers, Jack Plumage, Ken Ryan, George Horse Capture and Stan Juneau; special cousins, Curley and Swede Cole; sisters, Hallie (Richard Longfox), Shelley (Richard Brisbo) and big sister, Caroline YellowRobe, who had the job of babysitting him.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Mar. 4, 2013