PRICE - Allison "Al" DeLarme Gray, a decorated Navy World War II veteran and lifelong music lover, passed away peacefully at his home in Price.. He had been treated for sideroblastic anemia for many years.
Born in Dubois, Pa., Allison was the youngest child of Robert Allison Gray and Elsie Kiel Gray. He was preceded in death by his siblings, Gwendolyn Markham Lloyd, Frederick Gray, Laurette Hupman, and Vera Jones.
A lifelong traveler, Al enjoyed many hitchhiking adventures as a young man. One such trip took him along Highway 66 to California where he was employed at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica for two consecutive summers before joining the Navy at age 18. In later years, he and his children enjoyed numerous road trip vacations from coast to coast. In retirement, he traveled to Hawaii, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
Toward the end of World War II, Al was stationed in the Pacific as a diesel mechanic. During the Battle of Okinawa, his ship, the USS LSM(R)-188, a rocket ship, was struck by a Japanese dive bomber. Fifteen men were killed and 32 were wounded. The crippled ship was assisted by the cruiser Indianapolis along with the battleship Arkansas which towed the 188 as the attack continued. Al received a Navy Unit Commendation for stopping internal flooding and assisting survivors. He was a Petty Officer First Class when honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946.
After the war, Al studied at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1949 with a degree in bacteriology. During the following years, he was a salesman for Metropolitan Life and a district manager for Ashland Oil Refining Company. In 1971, he joined the United States Bureau of Mines, training in Beckley, W. Va, to become a federal mine safety inspector. After serving as a mine inspector in Clearfield County, Pa., he moved to Price in 1976 where he inspected the region's coal mines and assisted in safety work after mine accidents. He retired in 1999.
Al especially enjoyed classical music and collecting musical instruments. With little formal training, he could play the piano and organ by ear. He was a pianist at the First Baptist Church of Price and a Gideons member and speaker. His hobbies included diesel mechanics, woodworking and string instrument repair. In later years, he was a hospital volunteer and played piano at the Price Senior Center and the annual talent show. His biggest joys were his children and dear wife, Becky.
Al is survived by his wife Rebecca Graham Gray of Price. They celebrated their 40th anniversary in March. Al was married from 1948 to 1970 to Marion Dorothy Yost with whom he had four children, Gwendolyn "Wendee" Canzian of Bristol, R.I.; Eric Gray of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Allison J. Gray, who lives with her partner Jerry W. Lewis in Boulder, Colo.; and John "Jack" Gray, also of Boulder, Colo. Al's granddaughter, Danielle Canzian Draper and her husband, Matthew, live in Chapel Hill, N.C. with their two children, Khloe and James. Al is also survived by sisters- and brothers-in-law, many nieces and nephews, friends, and five cats.
Al requested that his body be donated for research at University of Utah. Memorial services are being planned in both Price and Boulder, Colo. Memorial donations may be made to First Baptist Church of Price or Gideons International.