John "Lee" Lanier Gray, a devoted husband, father, mentor, and friend to all, died on January 11, 2022, at his home in Amite, LA, surrounded by his loving wife and three devoted children. He was 88. The importance of a good work ethic and taking care of family was a virtue that began in Lee as a child. When he was a small boy he would stand atop a box to set type in his mother's print shop, helping to support his family of five brothers and sisters. As he became older he worked in the family newspaper, The News Digest. Lee became the type setter for most newspapers, including the competition in the area. During the summers of his college years, he worked on the pipeline in Pennsylvania to pay for his mother's grocery bill that had accumulated for the entire year. Mr. Gray never complained about the sacrifices he made, as this was just the way of showing his love and devotion for his family. Lee graduated from Amite High School in 1951 and received his BS in accounting from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1955. That same year he married his sweetheart, Patsy Ann Miller. On the day of their wedding he received his draft notice. Two weeks later he was off to serve two years in the United States Navy (1955-1957). After his discharge, he worked as a CPA in Baton Rouge until 1961 when he became the Assistant Comptroller in the USAID program stationed in Madagascar. Before heading to Madagascar, Lee had to complete an immersive French program in Washington D.C. However, six months into his post Lee had to leave his post due to a severe illness suffered by his infant son. Upon his return to the United States, he worked in Mississippi at a public accounting firm until 1963 when he took a teaching position at Southeastern Louisiana University where he taught governmental accounting for seven years. In 1963, he opened the first public accounting practice in Tangipahoa Parish which he operated until December 31, 2017. In that same year, Lee Gray was awarded the Lifetime Membership Award by the Society of Louisiana CPA's. Lee was a faithful man of God and a true public servant. As a Rotarian, Lee lived his life every day in step with the motto," Service Above Self". Education was very important to him and he assisted many with continuing their education and careers. In 2003, Mr. Gray introduced the Dictionary Project to Tangipahoa Parish which provides dictionaries to all third graders; that program is still active. After Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Gray and his wife, Patsy provided dictionaries and school supplies for Waveland, MS Elementary School (K-3) which was totally destroyed. Mr. Gray served on many boards /committees thru out his life with the intention of making his state and community better. Two which were dear to him were the Municipal Practice Review Committee for the State of Louisiana and ACTS, Inc. (God's Storehouse), a community outreach program. Mr. Gray always lent a helping hand to those who asked and even those who did not. Mr. Gray tried to bring some type of joy to those around him. Preceded in death by his parents Henry Weston Gray, Jr. and Norma Rosine Lanier; sisters, Mary Ellen Davis and Terry Ann Voight; brothers, Jack Kenneth Gray and David Bert Gray; son, Wade Lee Gray. He is survived by the love of his life of 66 years, Patsy Ann; son, Mark Lanier Gray (Robin); daughters, Terry Ann Gray and Laura Jane Gray White (John); 6 grandchildren, John Mark Gray, Michael Gray, Anna Gray, Courtney Lee Munkres, John Henry White, and Scott White; one great-grandchild on the way - Myles Dylan Gray; sister, Vera Catherine Brennan, and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. The family of Lee Gray would like to thank his caregivers for the past three years and St. Joseph's Hospice. Visitation at First Baptist Church, 117 E. Olive St., Amite, LA, from 9:00 a.m. until religious services at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 15, 2022. Services conducted by Dr. David Cranford. Interment: Mulberry Street Cemetery, Amite, LA. McKneely Funeral Home, Amite, in charge of arrangements. For an online guestbook, visit http://www.mckneelys.com
Published by The Advocate from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, 2022.