Woodward "Woody" Keith Gray, Jr.September 22, 1923 ~ June 16, 2017 (age 93)
Woodward "Woody" Keith Gray Jr., 93, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 16, 2017 in Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center in Duluth, MN. He was born on September 22, 1923 in Watersmeet, Michigan, to Woodward Gray, Sr. and Goldie (Gearhart) Gray. Woody, Jr. grew up in Bessemer, Michigan. He loved hunting and fishing and enjoyed many sports. He was an accomplished athlete who captained his high school basketball team and went on to play semi-professional football. His mom, Goldie, was a renowned local pianist, and he shared her love of music.
Woody left college early to enlist in the Army at the height of World War II. He served for three years until the end of the war, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant. After returning home, he married Josephine “Josie” Marie Priante on August 13, 1949. Woody started his career in the iron mining industry in Bessemer where he and Josie lived for ten years, and began to raise their three children, Carol, Gerry and Diane.
Woody devoted his life to his wife and children. His job took him to Superior, Wisconsin. He moved his family there in 1959 where they resided for five years before moving to Minnesota's Iron Range. There they settled in Hoyt Lakes and Woody worked for Erie Mining Company until he retired in 1983.
Woody was dedicated to young people and community service. He coached many youth hockey teams from the early 1960s into the 1980s. He championed the sport of tennis in Hoyt Lakes, introducing it to many youth and conducting the town’s annual tennis tournament. He also loved being out-of-doors. He enjoyed fishing and hunting with family members, and he later turned his attention to gardening. In his retirement years, Woody became an avid golfer and could be found daily walking and playing the Hoyt Lakes golf course. He was also active in the Hoyt Lakes VFW and American Legion where he and Josie enjoyed dancing and visiting with friends.
The family will remember Woody for his warmth, humor, and love of music. He would often be seen and heard whistling or humming melodies while he worked, moved around the house, or relaxed in his easy chair. He never missed an opportunity to sing with family or listen to music, and he seemed to know all the songs and lyrics from his generation.
Woody and Josie celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last August. The family also gathered with them in Duluth over the 2016 Christmas holidays for a wonderful reunion where everyone joined in favorite songs. Woody and Josie had the pleasure of meeting their first great grandchild, 2-month-old Tucker at this joyous event. Woody’s caregivers at Chris Jensen shared fond memories of his fun-loving spirit and joyful singing of old show tunes during his stay with them.
Woody was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Mary Louise “Poochie”, Katherine “Kay” and Betty “Becky,” and brothers Donald “Don” and Walter “Walt”. He is survived by his loving wife Josie, daughters Carol (Dan) Spielman, and Diane (Corrie) Boese, son Gerry (Cindy) Gray, grandchildren Ryan (Shannon), Woody (Kyrie), Grayson and Dawson Boese, Rebecca (Ben) Charlton, Sagan and David Gray, Nick Spielman, great-grandson Tucker Charlton, sister Gloria Elliott, in-laws Ann Priante and Dick Doucette, and many nieces and nephews.
Gathering of family and friends will be held Wednesday June 28th from 1:00pm until the 2pm Celebration of Woody’s Life at the Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 East 2nd Street Duluth MN. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Essentia Health Foundation, Hospice Program, 400 E 3rd St. Duluth MN 55805 or the Alzheimer’s Association 525 S Lake Ave Ste# 214 Duluth MN 55802.
Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home 600 East 2nd Street Duluth MN 55805 218-727-3555.
525 South Lake Ave Suite 214, Duluth MN 55802
Essentia Health Foundation
400 East 3rd Street, Duluth MN 55805