Gray Foster (October 15, 1946 - August 6, 2011)

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Gray Foster died on Saturday, August 6, 2011, in the care of her family at home in Anacortes, Washington.

In addition to her husband, Sam Hamill, she is survived by her children, Tad Kreager, Meg Almanza and Andrew Roney; by her beloved grandchildren, Michael Castillo, Derek and Kennedy Almanza, Zach Rodriquez and Jillian and Alexander Roney; by her stepdaughter, Eron Hamill; and by her siblings, Margaret W., Jan, Ian A. and Nina D. Foster. Gray is the firstborn daughter of David W. and Nancy A. Foster, deceased.

In 1976, Gray relocated from New England to La Conner in Skagit County, Washington. There, in 1979, she helped found and became the executive director of the Skagit Valley Domestic Violence and Rape Relief Program, serving for six years before moving to the Skagit Public Defender's Services to help indigent people find appropriate legal counsel.

In 1994, she moved to Port Townsend to marry Sam Hamill and began to build a life there. She was thrilled to join Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County as affiliate coordinator in 1999. This agency was a perfect storm for Gray, where she was able to apply all her gifts and life experience to her contributions.

She was promoted to executive director, turned the Habitat secondhand store into a major success and oversaw the building of 13 homes.

Upon her retirement in 2007, Habitat Board President Mark Huth observed, "Gray transformed HFHEJC from a fledgling organization to an affiliate that is a model for success . . . She has been a primary force moving us forward. Her leadership and dedication will always be an inspiration." Gray will be remembered in the communities she lived in for her lifelong service to social causes and for her uniquely engaging compassion, which inspired participation and enduring results.

All who had the good fortune to know and be known by her will remember her as a woman who was passionate in life and in love, as an artist who was self-taught and untempered, as an advocate who was steadfast and as a friend who was true.

Those of us who loved and were loved by her will never forget her laugh, her conversation, her grace or her example. There will forever be a place in our hearts that is solely hers to occupy.

There will be a memorial gathering from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2011, at the La Conner Civic Garden Club, 622 South Second Street, La Conner. A selection of Gray's paintings will be exhibited, and refreshments will be served.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Sept. 15, 2011
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