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Robert S. Gray


1923 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Robert S. Gray Obituary
Robert S. Gray
1923-2018
It is with great sadness that the family of ROBERT STEELE (BOB) GRAY announces his passing on September 5, 2018 at the age of 94 after suffering a sudden, acute stroke.
Gray, a Houston area resident since 1946, had careers in news broadcasting, newspaper reporting, magazine editing and publishing and, finally, as a novelist. He was probably best-known locally for having started the Houston Business Journal in 1971, the first U.S. periodical to weekly cover the business news about a single American city.
He was born in Beaumont in 1923, the son of Fred Gray, Jr. and Ruth Lewelling Gray, and grew up in Texas and Hot Springs, Ark., where his Gray ancestors came from. Gray was attending the University of Arkansas on a football scholarship when WWII began, and he left college to enlist.
During WWII, Gray served more than four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, with duty at Guadalcanal and later in North China. Near the end of the war he went through OCS and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. He was called back into uniform for the Korean Conflict and served in 1951-52 as officer in charge of the USMC's Combat Correspondent's Section in Korea.
Gray is predeceased by his wife, Nell. Married for 64 years, they met in 1944, and Nell was in the WAVES. They had a military wedding in July, 1945 while both were still in uniform. Upon release from service they moved to Houston in 1946 where Gray studied journalism at the University of Houston. He worked as a radio newsman first at KPRC, then was the first news director of KNUZ in 1948, then later was news director at KXYZ. In 1952, at KPRC-TV—then the city's only TV station—Gray became the first local journalist to cover news in Houston with a motion pictures camera, heading up that station's first film news department. He pioneered the use of existing light photography to film news stories in Houston courtrooms and other indoor locations. In 1954, Gray taught a one-semester course on television journalism at the University of Houston.
In 1956, Gray changed careers, going to work as a general assignments and investigative reporter for The Houston Post. After four years, he left to launch his own magazine company, Cordovan Publishing. He was strongly assisted by his wife, Nell. Over the ensuing decade, he started such periodicals as Horseman Magazine, Texas Fisherman, Western Outfitter, Jet Cargo News, and in 1971, Houston Business Journal. Later, Gray started or acquired weekly business journals in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, Pittsburgh, Denver and Washington, DC. While editing Horseman Magazine in the 1960s, Gray wrote a total of seven non-fiction books on horses, working with such well-known horse trainers as L.N. Sikes, Jane Mayo and George Tyler.
Cordovan's book division also published the first editions of Ray Miller's six volume Eyes of Texas series of travel books. In 1980, when Cordovan was acquired by E.W. Scripps Co., a publishing conglomerate, it had over 250 employees in twelve U.S. cities and published sixteen periodicals.
Gray started a second firm, Golfer Magazines, Inc., in 1984 with his son, Bobby Gray. It published the monthly magazines Gulf Coast Golfer and North Texas Golfer, which later combined into Texas Golfer. The enterprise was sold in 2001. Gray then turned briefly to writing fiction. His first and only novel, Survivor, was published in hardcover by St. Martin's Press in 1998. A paperback edition was issued in 2000. Gray and his wife lived in Katy, Texas during the last years of their lives. He was surrounded by loved ones up until his death. Services will be held at Forest Park-Westheimer located at 12800 Westheimer Rd. on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10 am. Visitation hours will be from 5-7 pm on Monday, Sept. 10.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 9, 2018
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