Betty GrayBetty Gray dies

Betty Gray, one of Reed's most passionate and devoted supporters, died April 10. Reed has benefited enormously over the years from Gray's care for Reed, her wisdom, and her heartfelt generosity. This was most evident in the Gray Fund, which she endowed with a gift to the college in 1991. She saw the need for opportunities outside the classroom and labs, and she made it possible for students and members of the faculty and staff to get off campus and take part in cultural, social, and recreational activities. The Gray Fund has developed into an integral part of the Reed community, and this legacy will live on through her foresight and her concern for the health and happiness of Reed students.

She was born Elizabeth Neuner; her father was George Neuner, Oregon state attorney general from 1943 to 1953. She earned a degree in home economics from Oregon State University. In 1946 she married John Gray, who later became a Reed trustee, and together they worked in building community, both at Reed and all over the city and state.

She supported many of the college's programs, including scholarships and financial aid, the Reed College Women's Committee, the annual fund, and the Friends of the Cooley Gallery. In 1981 she stepped in with an important gift to fill in a deficit in the student financial aid budget. Although Gray never sought the limelight, Reed recognized her long service by naming her an honorary alumna.

The Grays, in conjunction with their longtime friends Ed and Sue Cooley, gave a gift to Reed in 1988 that established the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery and still supports the teaching of art history at Reed and the Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitors Program in the Visual Arts. Betty in particular was a champion of local and regional art, and the couple received numerous awards for their activism in art, including the Governor's Arts Award. She worked tirelessly in the Portland community, most notably in a leading role on the board of overseers of the Oregon Health and Science University as well as a member on the boards of the Catlin Gabel School and the Oregon Independent Colleges Foundation. The Oregonian in 1990 called her "one of the most effective community workers around."

In 1998 Reed College named the Gray Campus Center for Betty and John Gray, in honor of their unceasing support for the college.

She is survived by her husband; her children, Joan Hoffman, Janet Webster, Jack Gray, and Laurie Gearhart; and her seven grandchildren. Her daughter Anne Walrod ’71 died in 1994. One student wrote to her after a Gray Fund event, expressing what many whose lives she touched feel about her: "I hope your generosity comes back to you ten thousandfold; you have made many people very happy." Betty Gray lived a life of selflessness, and Reed College will miss her.

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Reed Magazine February 2003
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