Don Gray

1934-2023

Don Gray a romantic and devoted spouse to Mary of 68 years, one of the most loved family men on this earth, has recently become Guardian Angel for:

Mark & Carolyn, Wayne, Alexis & Sean, Jonathan & Lindsay. Great Grandchildren Ceirra, Shelby, Aayla, Jacob, Chloe, Carley.  Deloyce & John, Nicholas, Andrew, Alexander. Pamela & Brooks, Ayva. Sister Jean, Niece & Nephews: Keith & Laurie, Lisa, Grandchildren: Link, Jet, Rowan.  Karen & Kerry, Kristine, Kevin. Kathryn, Nicole, Collette, Terry. Kevin & Karen, Kye, Koda. Brother Jim & Anne. A very special Aunt Betty, Barbie, Joanne & George, Brenda. Niece Audrey & Willie, Todd, Rob. Gloria Mark & Family and all the Gray’s.  The Girouard, Hanna, Schmidt, & Zimmer Families. 

Don, a funny and charismatic guy had many friends, we wish to recognize: John Szabo, Karen Szabo, Moe & Sylvia Johnson, Bernie & Kay Olafson, Roy & Nora Albers, Norm & Mary Hansen, Mickey & Elaine Ohata, Paul & Angie VanHoorn, Joe & Ann Malmsten and Liz Ladyman

Don an avid outdoors kid from Lloydminster, Sask, Yellowknife, NWT, and Kitscoty, Alta, was a true conservationist, a lover of all nature & animals is now roaming his beloved Merritt Swakum Mountain free to travel with his 4-legged companions Gus & Missy; to be with his bears, deer, marmots, beavers, and birds. Don and his bestie John Szabo enjoyed scaling the face of the Stawamus Mountain “Chief” in Squamish, they biked together through the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to Banff several summers carrying their food/gear over several days. Don loved tramping through the Merritt area hills with Norm Hansen & lighting slash piles for pure enjoyment in the winter. Don, this Canadian kid, who regularly rode the white-water rapids in Yellowknife as a form of transport and hunting Ptarmigan on his skis and snowshoes, found his people over these wonderful 49 years in Merritt!

Don lived life to the fullest. A weightlifter into his 80’s, and accomplished marathoner & triathlete into his mid 70’s.  Don was a volunteer from an early age with the “Save the Wolves Movement” in Edmonton, the Alberta Red Cross instructing swimming to children, youth, and adults, a consummate Red Cross blood donor, Scout Leader, Instructor of the Merritt Sacred Heart Parish 10-week public speaking program the “Christopher Course”, a big supporter of the Merritt Minor Hockey Assoc. as referee & linesman with his dear friend Mickey Ohata. Community Leaders, Don & Mary ran the Merritt Citizen’s Patrol for many years, a crime prevention non-profit to create safer neighborhoods in the Merritt community. Don was dedicated to one of his Canadian heroes, Terry Fox.  Contributing to Terry’s Cancer Foundation since its inception. Don was the oldest living 42-year consecutive participant, running every year somewhere in Canada no matter where he & Mary were travelling, every September.  Honoring Terry was a must!

Don started his professional career in the Alberta oilfields, as an electrician wiring complexes of houses in Alberta, at the  Alberta Government Telephone wiring & climbing tall towers, at Stelco, and electrical instructor at NAIT, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.  Don & Mary moved their family to Merritt in 1974, becoming small town business owners purchasing their beloved Copper Valley Motel. (1974-1979). At the same time Don taught in the electrical program at Cariboo College in Kamloops. Although he was not the electrical math instructor, Don wanted all the electrical students to succeed so he provided a lunch/learn coaching program, open to any electrical students to support their graduation.  Meanwhile, on the weekends this industrious man fixed & installed Merritt’s commercial signs and worked at Aspen Planners. Don then worked at Merritt’s Weyerhaeuser sawmill, “Go North!”, for 20+ years becoming electrical charge hand, mentoring his colleagues to become the best team, until Merritt’s Weyerhaeuser’s demise.

The Gray family would like to thank our steadfast doctor, Dr. Duncan Ross, his incredible right-hand Jackie, the awesome staff of Nicola Meadows Assisted Living, owners Vince & Hannah, Terrance Grams Hospice, everyone at the Nicola Valley Hospital, Homecare & Palliative Teams, who all contributed to Don’s end of life care. Living in Merritt has been an incredible journey for Don & our family, we are so appreciative for everyone who rubbed shoulders with our incredible father, for your friendship and kindness over his lifetime.

In lieu of flowers/donations please listen to John Denver’s “Annie Song”, go walk in nature, and hug your family.  Canadians are stalwart people, they are impassioned volunteers who make their communities a better place, they give back and honor others.  Thank you, Dad, for being such an incredible role model. Go forth and prosper in your new adventures with our ancestors. See you soon, we can’t wait to be with you again!

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