Below is a special reflection written by the Gray’s children, ‘Rick Gray & Evelyn “Tucky” Tucker.
Our parents, Fred and Eve Gray, were a team. As teenagers, “Buddy” Gray and Eve Johnson might not have seemed an obvious couple, but in retrospect their 49-year marriage made their partnership appear inevitable.
Fred was a blue-collar kid from Hopewell. After graduating from Hopewell High School, he worked as a clerk at the City Point oil terminal. College was a dream. Eve grew up in a large, antebellum farmhouse on the James River at Bermuda Hundred. After graduating from Thomas Dale, she was heading for William & Mary until a parent’s illness required her to change her plans.
But the two met, courted, and discovered that they completed each other. They married in 1943 in Sacramento on the day Fred became a navigator and Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. After their wartime separation, they settled at Bermuda Hundred and began working on their remarkable partnership.
Using the G. I. Bill, Fred graduated from the University of Richmond and its law school. He went on to a notable legal career, serving as Virginia’s Attorney General and, for 18 years, as a member of the General Assembly. Once their children were born, Eve became a full-time mother, active in civic affairs. She also remained Fred’s chief advisor and confidante.
The Grays became founding members of the Bermuda Hundred United Methodist Church, where Eve sang for decades in the chancel choir and was a leader in the Women’s Society. Fred served as lay leader and did much of the church’s legal work.
The Grays were deeply involved in civic institutions in the rapidly-growing Enon community. Eve was a leader in the Enon Elementary School PTA and a perennial room mother. Fred coached baseball in the local boy’s league. Both were active in supporting the Enon Quarterback Club.
In 1976, Fred suffered a massive heart attack, which would certainly have proven fatal but for the timely presence of a piece of brand-new technology – an aortic heart pump – which happened to be at MCV for a product demonstration on the day that would have been his last. In what newspapers called a “miracle”, doctors at MCV persuaded the sales representative to let them hook the Senator up to the machine, saving his life.
This experience deepened the Grays’ interest and involvement in generating support for rescue squads, emergency medical care, and coronary health. In 1977, Fred went to work to persuade local industries to equip John Randolph Hospital with life-saving “second generation” diagnostic equipment. In doing this, he was advised by his cardiologist, the highly-regarded Dr. Yi-Nan Chou, and Franklin D. Boyce, the hospital’s administrator (and later, the first CEO of the John Randolph Foundation). In 1978, Eve spent a year travelling the Commonwealth as Honorary Chair of the Virginia Chapter of the American Heart Association.
Five years later, while actively crafting and working for passage of Virginia’s first mandatory child safety seat legislation, Fred was himself the victim of a traumatic automobile accident, which he survived thanks to the work of the Bensley-Bermuda Volunteer Rescue Squad. During his difficult convalescence, Eve took up his cause, encouraging Fred’s assembly allies to shepherd his bill along the complex route to adoption. Its passage in 1982 was the capstone to Fred’s long legislative career.
In her seventies, Eve began serving as a volunteer at John Randolph Hospital. By the time of her death at age 95, Eve had outlived most of her contemporaries and gained many opportunities to witness, with gratitude, the benefits of compassionate hospice care. Through her final months, Eve herself knew the peace and dignity of hospice.
In everything they did our parents strove to work together, sometimes through discussion, or compromise, or by one partner simply giving way. Often, wisely, they entrusted one partner to decide certain matters for both.
Dad expected Mom to outlive him, and he trusted her to decide how to serve worthy purposes with some of the assets they had labored together to acquire. When Mom passed on last winter, she proved him right.
One substantial part of their legacy will be the Frederick T. Gray and Evelyn J. Gray Memorial Endowment, which functions under the John Randolph Foundation. The endowment reflects causes which became important to our parents in their lifetimes by providing funds:
- To benefit voluntary emergency services in the Bermuda District of Chesterfield
- To provide access to primary medical care in Chesterfield
- To provide hospice care to residents in the John Randolph Foundation’s service area
- To benefit organizations assisting persons in need of financial help in health-related matters
We are delighted to introduce the Frederick T. Gray and Evelyn J. Gray Memorial Endowment Fund. We hope that many will be moved to add to its resources.
‘Rick Gray & Evelyn “Tucky” TuckerTags: Donor Story, endowment, Nonprofit, Philanthropy
This post was written by AJ James