Jan Gray, 76, beloved wife of General Al Gray, United States Marine Corps (Ret), passed away peacefully Thursday, 30 January 2020, after a brief hospitalization.
Born on 3 July, 1943, along with her twin brother Jackie, in Houston, Texas, where her father, then 1stLt Ralph J. Goss of the U.S. Army Air Corps, had been stationed prior to going overseas as a B-24 Pilot during World War II. Then Captain Goss was shot down over Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea on his 26th mission. He was picked up by a German PT Boat and was a Prisoner of War for nearly three years.
Jan and Jackie were abandoned by her mother on a Houston doorstep at age one. They were brought to Burlington, Vermont, by their loving Uncle Bud Brand and their Aunt Celia, who raised them for several years. Their father returned after the war and subsequently married Madeline (Babe) Walker of Rutland, VT. Later, Jan and Jackie joined them as her father remained in the U.S. AIr force serving in Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Alaska until retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel. While serving at Wright-Patterson in Ohio, Jackie, then nine years old, was struck by a car and invalided for life, passing in 2008.
After high school, Jan graduated from Kathryn Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston and was employed for many years with the Mitre Corporation in Boston, Washington, DC and McLean, VA. She served as an analyst and secretary to the Engineer Department in support of the Defense Communication Planning Group (DSSG) at the U.S Naval Observatory. The DSSG was heavily involved in applying Sensor Technology, and other capabilities in Southeast Asia, during the Vietnam conflict. While there, she met then LTCol Gray who then headed the DSSG Intelligence Department in February 1968. They had their first date during the Labor Day weekend of 1969 upon his return from special operations in Vietnam. On that evening they fell in love forever.
In 1973, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but it remained passive. She survived cancer twice as well as several other major surgeries and medical challenges. Throughout the years, she always remained optimistic and upbeat. She always had time for everyone and had a special smile for all. She had a particular interest and caring thoughts for the young people and their families who serve in our Armed Forces.
Over the years, she was deeply devoted to looking after Al's mother, particularly when he was overseas or on special assignments.
In 1979, Jan accepted a special assignment in Brussels, Belgium. While vIsiting at Quantico, VA prior to her departure, she observed his mother's health condition and arranged for her to see a doctor for evaluation. After the doctor discovered a Sciatic Nerve problem, she took a leave of absence from the Mitre Corporation and helped the mother to full recuperation during an extended stay in Florida. After a brief engagement, she and Al we're married on 27 July 1980 in Burlington, VT.
In addition to serving at Quantico where Al Gray commanded the Development Center, Jan was at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from 1981 thru 1984 while her husband commanded the 2d Marine Division and then in Norfolk from 1984 to 1987 when he commanded Fleet Marine Forces (FMF) Atlantic, FMF Europe and the II Marine Amphibious Force. From 1987 to 1991, she carried out her responsibilities to Marine and Navy personnel, and their families, as the Marine Corps Commandant's wife. She was also a strong supporter of local activities in the Washington, DC area.
In 1991, at a private ceremony, she was awarded the Department of the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award for her dedication to a wide range of family and family support programs. The citation read: "Recognizing the direct relationship between combat readiness and family well-being, Mrs. Gray gave unselfishly of her time and efforts to improve the quality of life and to increase the support for all members of our military family. Of particular note was her efforts to support the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Marine Corps Scholarship Program, the Navy Wifeline Program, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, and her support for the families of casualties of the Beirut Bombing. Mrs, Gray's contributions have reflected great credit upon herself and have been of inestimable value to the Department of the Navy."
She was awarded the Marine Corps League Distinguished Service Award in 1985. Mrs. Gray was granted sponsorship of the dock landing ship USS COMSTOCK (LSD 45) in 1988. Throughout the years after her husband's military retirement, she remained steadfast in support of our military service personnel and their families.
Unable to have children, Jan had a great love for dogs, particularly her large Poodles Sport and Noir. She also cherished her miniature Poodles, their Portuguese Water Dog and her husband's many Labrador Retrievers through the years. She lost her precious last miniature Poodle Cozy III (pictured) in August 2019. She is survived by her husband and her step-mother, Madeline Goss.
Funeral and Burial Services will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date with her husband, as per her wishes. Jan's favorite charities were the Semper Fi Fund/America Fund www.org
and the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation www.mc-lef.org.