Ronald F. Gray
In the early hours of Friday morning, July 21, 2023, Ron Gray passed away. He will be missed so very much, but he is in the presence of his Lord and Savior and has been reunited with Evelyn, his wife; other family members; and friends.
Ron was born on December 6, 1931, and brought up in Dover, New Hampshire. After graduating from Dover High School and then a year at Cornell, with a scholarship in engineering, he attended the University of New Hampshire, Durham, where he worked on and graduated with a degree in mathematics education. Drafted into the army, he was stationed at Fort Gordon (Augusta, Georgia) from 1953-1955. He had been searching for what part faith would play in his life. While he was in the army, he decided to read the Bible through cover-to-cover, and he attended services from many different denominations. At that time, he never found a church to which he could commit.
In 1955, after he had served in the army, he took his first teaching job – in upstate New York in a small town called Constableville. It was there he met Evelyn Brown, who had been teaching at Constableville Central School for several years. Evelyn invited him to church – she was raised in the Nazarene church, her father a pastor. Ron’s first Nazarene service was a Wednesday night prayer meeting – he had never heard such stirring testimonies and preaching or heartfelt prayers before and decided this was what he had been searching for. He prayed to the Lord, asking Him to come into his heart, and he dedicated his life to the Lord and the Lord’s mission for his life. He also fell in love with Evelyn (and she with him), and they married in 1957.
The people of the Constableville area played an important part in both Ron’s and Evelyn’s lives. Their married lives began in the Constableville area. They both taught at Constableville Central School and both were very involved in the church in Lowville, a town not too far away, leading the young people’s group.
They moved to California in order for Ron to earn his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1960, while they were back in upstate New York for almost a year so that Ron could complete research for his dissertation, their daughter Donna was born. Then they moved back to California for the last year of Ron’s doctoral program. He completed his EdD in Mathematics Education in 1961.
Ron and Evelyn were a team. They lived and taught (Ron full time, Evelyn part time) in various areas in the US and in Canada and in Trinidad. It was at this time that his focus changed to the Christian college/university level. In 1961, they moved to Quincy (Boston), Massachusetts, to teach at Eastern Nazarene College (ENC). Ron taught various math and education courses and became head of the education department. In 1965, Ron and family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to become academic dean (nine years) and then president (four years) of Canadian Nazarene College (CNC). One of his missions was to work on accreditation for the college as well as help other schools become accredited through CNC. During that time as an administrator, he always taught at least one course so that he would not lose touch with the students or faculty. In 1978, Ron and family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to teach at Trevecca Nazarene University. He taught there from 1978-80 and from 1983-90. His mission was always to help students realize their potential generally, and to appreciate math specifically, to realize they could succeed. Through the years, he and Evelyn had short-term assignments in Trinidad at Caribbean Nazarene Theological College (CNTC), now Caribbean Nazarene College, where they served in various capacities, but retained their home base in Canada. They valued the many friendships developed during those years.
From 1980-83 and 1990-95, Ron returned to the high school level, to Niagara Christian College, in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, where he served in a variety of administrative positions: director of development, academic dean, and president. He “retired” in 1995. The Fort Erie area was a welcoming place for Ron to set down roots. When Evelyn died in 2004, Ron threw himself into volunteer work: Niagara Heights Church of the Nazarene, People’s Christian Academy, South Niagara Life Ministries, Matthew House Fort Erie, and Fort Erie Rotary. He cultivated many lasting friendships there.
At the end of 2018, he made the decision to move down to Nashville to live with Donna, his daughter. He was very active in volunteer work until then. When he moved down, he continued to be active, transferring his church membership from Niagara Heights Church of the Nazarene to Nashville First Church of the Nazarene and participating in ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) meetings, Friday morning Bible studies, Saturday morning Kings’ Men missionary meetings, and senior adult dinners at First Church. He was active for as long as he could be.
Ron loved everywhere he lived and always found unique features to enjoy, especially connected with people because he appreciated people. He lived by three principles: flexibility, variety, and Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart, as unto the Lord and not human masters.” Those three principles never left him.
Ron was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn; his parents, Clarence and Kathryne Gray; his brother, Roland (and Doris) Gray; and other family and friends. He is survived by his daughter, Donna Gray; niece, Suzanne Allred, and nephew, Ted Gray; nephew, Ken (and Jean) Brown; and other family and friends.