Harriet (Welsh) Gray, 86, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Easter Sunday, March 31, at Peace Hospice.
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Memorial service is 3 p.m. Friday, April 26, at First Congregational UCC in Great Falls. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Croxford Funeral Home.
Harriet was born Oct. 19, 1926, in Billings to H. Lee and Verna (Sylvester) Welsh. She graduated from Billings Senior High in 1944. Growing up in Billings, she spent many happy days riding horses in the Rim Rocks. She enrolled at University of Montana and became a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
In the fall of her second year at the University of Montana, she met Frank Orville Gray of Great Falls. Orville had returned to UM for his last year of law school after Army Infantry service in World War II. He was a company commander who participated in the Normandy Invasion and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. Harriet's brother, David, served in World War II as a US Naval Intelligence officer in China.
Harriet and Orville married Oct. 28, 1946, at the Episcopal Church in Missoula. They moved to Great Falls, where Orville practiced law with his father, AH Gray. Orville later became U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Judge for much of Montana. They raised three sons, Bruce, Randy and Jeff.
The family cabin and neighbors at Logging Creek were a joyous part of Harriet's life. Harriet was an accomplished homemaker and active community volunteer. Over the years she was active with PTA, Cub Scouts, Junior League (where she visited public grade schools with models and talks about the Apollo space program), C.M. Russell Museum, Children's Receiving Home and American Red Cross. She served on the Great Falls Symphony Board and was a 50-plus year member of PEO. She was an active member of First United Methodist Church and in her later years, First Congregational Church. Her many interests included tennis, golf, skiing, horseback riding, bicycling, reading and more reading. She was an avid traveler, enjoying many trips with her family, with Orville and with friends. Harriet was a gracious lady, a wonderful hostess, a loving mother/grandmother and a heck of a cook.
She was a breast cancer survivor. Her oldest son, Bruce, was killed in a tragic car accident in 1969, along with Great Falls native, Ben Briscoe. Bruce and Ben were respectively student body vice president and president of University of Montana. They were returning to UM from Butte where they were lobbying to lower the voting age in Montana. Her husband Orville died of cancer in 1993. Despite these challenges, Harriet always had a positive, upbeat outlook on life which she shared with her sons, her grandchildren and her many friends.
Harriet is survived by her sons, Randy (Nora) Gray, Jeff (Mary) Gray, all of Great Falls; her grandsons, Jason (Linda Barrera) Gray of Sacramento, Calif., Ian Gray of Paris, France and Spencer Gray of Washington, D.C.; her granddaughters, Allison (Chris) Cory of Twenty Nine Palms Marine Corps Base, Calif., Caitlin (Tamer) Avci of Istanbul, Turkey and Carolyn Gray of Phoenix, Ariz.; nephews, Bill (Gloria) Steinbrenner of Missoula and Kerry (Denise) Gray of Great Falls; great nieces, Jill (Barry) Olson of Missoula, Audrey Caraway (Steve) Worthington of Billings and Lacey Gray (Brandon) French of Phoenix; and great nephews, Gerry Steinbrenner and Tom Steinbrenner of Missoula, Herb Caraway of Billings and Aaron Gray of Missoula.
She is preceded in death by her parents; brother, David; husband, Orville; and oldest son, Bruce.
Harriet and her family would particularly like to thank the compassionate staff and volunteers at Park Place, High Gate, Benefis and Hospice. Every day these special people quietly and competently help their patients and families of their patients face challenges with dignity, understanding and even humor.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Great Falls Symphony, P.O. Box 1078, Great Falls, MT. 59403; or McLaughlin Research Institute, 1520 23rd St So., Great Falls, MT. 59405. To remember Harriet, be thankful for family and hug a friend.
Condolences may be posted online at: www.croxfordfuneralhome.com or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 6, 2013