GRAY, Jr., 89
LAKELAND - Lawrence Eccles Gray, Jr., 89, passed away as a result of natural causes Saturday, March 16, 2013.
Mr. Gray was born November 9, 1923 in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in North Carolina and attended Belmont Abbey parochial school. As a young man during World War II, he moved to New Jersey to work at the Bakelite Corporation where he met his wife Margaret. Before the end of the war, he and his wife moved to Davis Island in Florida where he worked at the Navy shipyard. In 1948, following his graduation from the University of Florida
, he and his wife moved to Lakeland where he began working at the FMC Corp as a chemical engineer in the citrus processing division. During his tenure there, Mr. Gray helped develop a filtration system for concentrated orange juice and a safer version of the red dye used in food products. He also traveled all over the world overseeing citrus production.
After his retirement, Mr. Gray became an avid collector of stamps, coins, boxes, bricks, "round" things that he found on the ground and couldn't identify, and Lakeland postcards. He used his postcard collection to give several presentations on Lakeland history to local groups. He also loved meeting his friends for breakfast at Reececliff every morning, where copies of his Lakeland postcards adorn the walls.
Mr. Gray was preceded in death by his brother, Francis Eugene "Gene" Gray. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Margaret Gray; daughters, Caroline Gray Krombach and Susan (William) Melson; sister, Dorothy Groom; brother, James (Yamara) Higgins; grandson, Alfred (Molly) Krombach III; granddaughters, Kerry and Brittany Melson; and 3 great grandchildren.
A visitation will be conducted, in Mr. Gray's honor, Thursday, March 21, 2013, from 6-8pm at Lakeland Funeral Home, 2125 South Bartow Highway in Lakeland. A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted Friday, March 22, 2013, at 10:30am at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 210 West Lemon Street in Lakeland. Interment will follow at Lakeland Memorial Gardens.