Charles Lee Gray

Charles Lee Gray, 95, of Benton, Arkansas went to be with the Lord, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. 
He was born Feb. 3, 1918, in Grand Rivers, Ky., to Joseph Arthur and Bertha Grace (Thompson) Gray.
Charles graduated from Kensett High School. He earned a degree in education from Henderson State University and a master's degree in school administration from University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
He worked 39 years in Arkansas education at Manchester, Velvet Ridge, Harmony Grove (Benton), Bentonville, Wilmar, Harmony Grove (Camden), Fountain Hill, Biggers-Reyno, Paron and Bruno-Pyatt Schools.
He was a World War II veteran, serving as a lead navigator for the 305th Bomb Group, 366 Squadron, 8th Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Chelveston, England, where he flew 30 combat missions over Germany with two missions on Hitler’s Headquarters in Berlin. Charles received numerous decorations and citations including the Distinguished Flying Cross for outstanding service in 1945, and earned the Air Medal with four Oakleaf clusters.
Charles was an advocate for teachers and education by supporting bills in the Arkansas Legislature, serving on the Arkansas Education Association State Leadership Committee. He volunteered for many organizations, including nine years on the state Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society.
He was a 32nd-degree Mason and was on the Advisory Council of the Central Arkansas Area Agency on Aging, where he received an award for 12 years of dedicated service. Charles was a lifetime member of the Arkansas Retired Teachers Association and a member of the Saline County Chapter for many years.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Erma Dorothy (Thrash) Gray; and his brother, Joseph Arthur Gray Jr.
He is survived by his sons, Charles Lee Gray Jr. and wife Judy of San Diego, Calif., Thomas E. Gray and wife LaWanda of Monticello, Bobby Gray and wife Sherry of Benton, Bill Gray and wife Karla of Bryant; his brother, Dr. Thomas Gray of Fayetteville; his sisters, Mary Knapp of Manhattan, Ill., and Bertha Courtney of Fayetteville; nine grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.
Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Ashby Funeral Home with Brother Cecil Hyde officiating. Burial will follow at 2 p.m. at Ebenezer Cemetery in Kirby.
Visitation is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
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