TAPS - Senator Elmon T. Gray ’46
Sen. Gray, left, is presented with the Byrd Award in 2009 by Thomas G. Slater ’66. - VMI File Photo by Kevin Remington.
LEXINGTON, Va., Sept. 28, 2011 – A former VMI Board of Visitors president and one of the Institute’s stalwart supporters, retired state Sen. Elmon T. Gray ’47, died yesterday.
A memorial service is scheduled to be held at VMI’s Jackson Memorial Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow the service.
Gray matriculated at VMI in the fall of 1942. He left VMI in 1944 to serve with the U.S. Navy. After being discharged as an ensign in 1946, he returned to VMI to complete his degree, which he received in 1947.
After VMI, he joined his family’s business, Gray Lumber Company, based in Waverly, Va. Originally centered on timber and lumber, it expanded into a diversified real estate holding company, becoming GrayCo in 1992. Gray served as the corporation’s president for many years, and, at the time of his death, was its chairman. He also served on numerous corporate boards, including Virginia Electric and Power Company, First and Merchants National Bank, James River Bankshares Ltd. and Universal Corp.
In 1972, Gray became a member of the Senate of Virginia, filling the same seat his father had held. During two decades of senatorial service, he was a member of many key committees and was widely respected by colleagues of both parties. As the longtime chairman of the Senate’s Education and Health Committee, he was one of the leaders in the effort that markedly improved higher education throughout Virginia. He also was instrumental in the creation of the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington. In March 2009, VMI recognized his service to the Commonwealth by presenting him the Harry F. Byrd Jr. ’35 Public Service Award.
Gray had a great love of Virginia history. This led to his service as a trustee of the Virginia Historical Society, the Historic Petersburg Foundation, and the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation.
Within the VMI family, Gray was known for his exceptional devotion to VMI. He served as the president of the Board of Visitors from 1964 to 1966 and as the president of the VMI Alumni Association from 1971 to 1973. He was one of the lead contributors and co-general chairmen of The VMI Campaign, the first capital campaign on VMI’s behalf, which ran from 1978 to 1990. Many of the endowments that support VMI’s educational excellence were established during this time.
In 1980, the Institute’s Board of Visitors awarded him VMI’s highest honor, the New Market Medal. He was presented with the VMI Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award and the VMI Keydet Club’s Spirit of VMI Award in 1977 and 1991, respectively. In 2007, the Institute further honored him by naming its renovated baseball field Gray-Minor Stadium. G. Gilmer Minor III ’63 was the other honoree.
“Senator Gray’s unswerving dedication to VMI, matchless drive, and unflagging energy helped ensure the success of The VMI Campaign,” said VMI’s superintendent Gen. J. H. Binford Peay III. “That capital campaign’s success laid the groundwork for the advances that VMI has made in the past two decades. Current and future cadets, faculty, and staff members, therefore, owe an enormous debt of thanks to Elmon Gray.”
– VMI –