James E. ¨Pete¨ Gray, 83, of Flemingsburg, Ky. born on May 3, 1937 in Maysville, Kentucky passed peacefully on April 7, 2021 while surrounded by loved ones at Hospice of Hope in Maysville, Kentucky. He was the eighth of twelve children born to the late Roy C. Gray, Sr. and Alice Kerr Hood Gray of Flemingsburg.
Pete is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Sherry Connor Gray and the proud father of daughter Michelle Gray (Pat) Dillon, son David Wayne Gray and daughter Jennifer Gray Mann, grandfather to Nate (Alison) Dillon, Kelsey Dillon, James Dillon, Dalton Gray, Conner Gray, Naomi Gray, Lincoln Gray, Olivia Mann, and Davis Mann. Pete was preceded in death by two sisters, Elizabeth Ann ¨Liz¨ Thomas and Jane Gray Porter, and four brothers, Roy Cooper Gray, Jr., Charles Hood Gray, Richard Patton Gray, and Roger Owen Gray. Surviving sisters are Lynn Gray Burke (Gerald), Martha Curtis Gray Prewitt, Virginia Gray Forman (Bill), and Amanda Sue Gray Steffin. He is also survived by one brother John Fielding Gray. In addition are many nieces and nephews.
Throughout his life, Pete demonstrated a drive and commitment to his family, farming, service to community and country, and baseball.
Pete was a graduate of Morehead State University. While at MSU Pete was a member of the Eagles baseball team. He was selected on the all OVC Team as a pitcher in 1961 and after taking one year off to join the service, he returned to the Eagles baseball team in 1963. That same year Pete was recognized as the Trail Blazer Senior MSC Athlete of the Year and a player who helped to lead the Eagles to one of their finest seasons. Pete, known as a ¨hurling southpaw with a floating fork ball¨, was the first major no-hit pitcher for the college which led to an offer to tryout with the Cincinnati Reds. After a short leave from school to help on the family farm he returned to college to obtain his BA of Agriculture and BA of Economics degrees.
An innate ability to coach, teach, and motivate were seen in the way Pete served his community as teacher, coach and Little League president. Along with being a teacher at the Fleming County High School, he enjoyed coaching girls basketball and was the high school´s baseball coach from the years of 1976-1986. Under his leadership, the FCHS Panther baseball teams won the district tournament 7 times and the regional tournament 4 times which led to a spot in the state tournament 4 times.
A constant that ran through Pete's life was farming. Pete was recognized as a young farmer when he was selected as the Fleming County Outstanding Young Farmer. He also held various positions within the agricultural community. He was selected as, and served on, the State Board of Kentucky Young Farmers, on the Fleming County Board of Directors, became President of the Fleming County Farm Bureau and was a President of the Kentucky Limousin Breeders Association.
Outside of farming, Pete took great pride in serving in the Army Reserves. Once he started college he changed from K Company Quartermaster of the 20th Corps to I Company, Combat Engineering of the 20th Corps. There, he entered the Basic Course of Combat Engineering in laying airfields. As part of the I Company 2d Bn., 400th Regt., 100th Division, he was ordered to active duty at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. While at Fort Chaffee, he entered basic training and returned to his unit as Instructor of Tactics. His last role with I Company was as a Senior Instructor before he was reassigned to Company E, as 1SG Overstrength. Pete was the Senior Tank Commander when his Company was tasked with training the 2d Bn in M1 Tanks. After being transitioned to D Company 2-400th as 1SG, and then being promoted to E8, he became Command Sergeant Major of 2d Bn, 400th Regt. 1 Bde, 100th Division and he held that rank until retiring after 31 years of service.
Funeral will be 2 p.m., Sunday, April 11, 2021, at Boone-Nickell Funeral Home with Bro. Larry Ingram officiating.
Pete will be laid to rest in Fleming County Cemetery. Military rites will be performed by the W.N. Fant American Legion Post #5 and Franklin Sousley VFW Post 1834.
Grandsons will serve as pallbearers and will include Nate Dillon, James Dillon, Dalton Gray, Conner Gray, Lincoln Gray and Davis Mann.
Visitation will be 11 a.m., until the hour of service at 2 p.m., Sunday, at the funeral home.
In compliance with state mandate, masks are required for those in attendance of all services.
Our family wishes to express deep gratitude for the compassionate and professional care which comforted Pete and his family during his final days. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Hope Care Center, 1435 Kenton PointeWay, Maysville, Kentucky 41056. Donations can also be made online by visiting www.hospiceofhope.com.
Friends may offer online condolences at www.boonenickellfuneralhome.com
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