Gray Jr., William Robertson 88 Dec. 27, 1922 Aug. 18, 2011
William R. Gray, Jr., former professional football player and long-time educator and administrator in Portland Public Schools, passed away peacefully at age 88. Born in Portland to William and Eliza Gray, Bill was one of seven children raised with a strong Scottish heritage that included belonging to the Clan Mc Clay and to Mt. Scott Presbyterian Church.
Upon graduation from Benson High School, where he was known for his athletic ability, he began his undergraduate studies at Oregon State College (now OSU) in Corvallis. Bill, a heartfelt Beaver, was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and the OSU football team. He played collegiate football with an immense love for sport, profound belief in fairness and loyal teamwork, and remarkable skill-a combination that earned him the honor of All American.
In 1942, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and transferred to the University of Southern California for officer training where he continued to play football, gaining recognition for his leadership on the 1944 winning Rose Bowl team. After serving as a Marine Lieutenant in China during World War II, Bill played professionally for the Washington Redskins. He later completed his master's degree in education at Lewis & Clark College.
Bill's greatest joy was his family. At 16 he met his first and only love, Adele Haugner, who he married in 1945. Bill was a devoted and loving husband for 67 years. Through his quiet strength, patient manner, family-centered ideals and easy smile, Bill was a constant inspiration to his four children and their families: Karen Keefer (Harry Keefer), Lizbeth Gray (Donald Takush), William Gray III (Ann Emerson Gray) and Jennifer Arbanas (David Arbanas).
He deeply loved and cared for his eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, his brothers and sisters, and dozens of nieces and nephews. Those family members still living recognize the priceless legacy Bill left behind and will carry on his values and memory with pride.
For over 30 years, Bill was a quiet hero to the many Portland youth and staff with whom he worked relentlessly as principal and vice principal of Cleveland, Marshall, Washington and Roosevelt High Schools. His dedication to bringing people together in order to find common ground, his belief in the goodness of people and his integrity as a leader and gentleman was legendary.
After retirement Bill continued his service to youth through involvement with the Boy Scouts, YMCA and community religious education programs. During his lifetime, Bill received numerous honors for his work as an educator including being recognized as "A Man of Principle" and a "Portland Federation of Teachers Top Educator" for creating learning atmospheres of safety, respect, and inclusion. Similarly, he was lauded as a superb athlete and was awarded membership in the Oregon State University Athletic Hall of Fame, Ripley's Believe It or Not Athletes, The National All Stars Team and the Portland Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bill Gray Jr. was a man of deep faith, which provided him an unshakeable foundation, personal meaning, a remarkable outlook on life and a kindness toward humanity. Over 88 years, his loving nature, ability to be present in the moment, honesty and non-judgmental approach to living life have positively impacted friends, neighbors and colleagues. Bill will be remembered as an honorable man who lived a life filled with daily happiness.
A celebration of Bill's life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday Aug. 28, 2011, at First Presbyterian Church, 1200 S.W. Alder St., Portland, with a reception following in the Church Garden Plaza. A parking garage is available adjacent to the church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in the name of Bill Gray Jr.'s son, William R. Gray III, Providence Cancer Research Foundation, 4805 N.E. Glisan St., Portland, OR 97213.