Robert Alrich Gray, Jr. died peacefully on Friday, May 21st, in Abilene. A native Abilenian, Robert loved his hometown. As a boy, by foot, bicycle, car, raft and boat, he explored every inch of Abilene, its creeks and lakes. In his ‘80’s, he could still name the people, and their addresses, whose laundry he delivered as a teenager for his family’s laundry business, Rightway Laundry.
Robert was born March 12, 1938, to Robert Alrich Gray Sr. and Mary Beth Franklin Gray. He lived most of his life in Abilene, attending Abilene schools, graduating in the first class from the “new” Abilene High School in 1956. He appreciated the many teachers who inspired him, especially the much-loved Pete Webb who helped instill in him a love for classical music and the English language, particularly when spoken and written well.
Intrigued by the development of computers, Robert earned an Associate Degree in Computer Science from Dallas Community College. His expertise in the earliest days of technology led to interesting work in Dallas with Braniff Airlines, Lone Star Gas, Republic Bank, and others in Lufkin, Henderson and Cleburne. In 1979, he returned to Abilene to operate his own businesses, Valco and White’s Pumping Units.
Robert’s years in the Dallas area and east Texas were enriched by his family, including his wife, Lynn Hall, whom he married in Abilene, June 15, 1957, his son, Mark, and his daughter, Elizabeth. He was an active member of Baptist churches and a civic volunteer in each community. Lynn suffered an untimely death in 1980, following their return to Abilene.
With the advent of personal computers, Robert returned to computing and technology with his business, ComputerLand, and as a contractor in sales, consulting, networking and communication.
On August 1, 1981, Robert married Gayle Wright Cook, happily blending the two families with the addition of Suzanne, Trey and Stephen.
Robert never stopped learning. He loved and enjoyed music, literature, travel, gardening, cooking, fishing, hunting, birding, photography, and the family dogs—all were important. Serving as President of the Abilene Philharmonic Board and Foundation and as Director of the Freedom Sunday School Class, taught by his good friend and mentor, Dr. Ron Smith, brought pleasure and inspiration. He cherished his family, friends and church, First Baptist Abilene, and respected people from all walks of life.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Lynn, and his sister, Penny Gray White. He is survived by his wife, Gayle, his children, Mark Gray (Kay), Elizabeth Gray Doughty (Dave), Suzanne Cook Taylor (Greg), Trey Cook (Linda Larsson), Stephen Cook (Nancy), ten wonderful grandchildren, Jordan Taylor Anagnostopoulos, Travis Gray, Cole Gray, Zachary Taylor, Blake Taylor, Andrew Cook, Laura Cook, Parker Doughty, Sixten Cook, Elis Cook, and two great-grandchildren, Owen Taylor and Ben Taylor. Also mourning his loss are Robert’s brother and sister-in-law, Stanley and Freddia Gray, his sister-in-law, Linda Abel, his brother-in-law, Bill Wright, and many loving nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Dr. Samantha Goodman, Encompass Home Health, Wesley Court Skilled Nursing and Hendrick Hospice for their loving care of Robert.
A memorial celebration will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 17, 2021, at the First Baptist Church. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, 401 Cypress, Abilene 79601, the Give Hope Campaign at First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 85, Abilene, 79604, or the Kirby Lake Project, West Texas Science Center, c/o Rick Hammer, 181 Raymond’s Way, Abilene, 79602.
The family first began in the funeral business in 1933. The Hamil's legacy, beginning with the Elliott's to John and Jo Ann Hamil and now continuing with Robert and Karla Hamil, is to serve families in their time of need.