Remembering Dartmouth's Woody Gray '56

Gray and 3 Dartmouth teammates

Woody is pictured here with this teammates, third from the left.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Don (Woody) Gray died quietly at home, at age 89, in Johns Creek, GA on August 8 following a short illness. He was born in Norwalk, CT in 1934 to Donald H. Gray and Sally Miles Gray of Darien, CT.

He graduated from Darien High School on Renshaw Road in 1952 where he excelled in football, also played basketball, and handled the shotput and javelin events for the track team. His football prowess extended to the basketball court where, as one of Darien’s legendary “twin towers” in 1952, he protected his basket as a football player would.

Don/Woody went on to Dartmouth College (the school of his father, two brothers, a brother-in-law, and an uncle) in Hanover, NH. At Dartmouth he majored in English and was a 4-year letterman as an offensive and defensive end on the football team, and played rugby in the spring of his junior and senior years (1955 team photo). Off the gridiron and pitch, he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and Casque & Gauntlet senior society.

Following graduation from Dartmouth, Woody spent the 1956 football season in Hanover as an assistant coach for the freshman football team while waiting to commence his military service. From 1957 through 1958 he served in the Marine Corp, and was stationed mostly on Okinawa where he spent some of his time there playing for the 3rd Marine Division’s football team.

From 1959-1964 Don worked for Continental Can Company in Chicago and Mount Vernon, OH. From 1965-1974 he was employed by Colgate-Palmolive Company in: New York City (where, and when, he met his future wife Marion); in Malibu, CA; and in NYC again (at which point he lived in Bernardsville and Basking Ridge, NJ).

A job change In 1975 took Don to the Automotive Battery Division of Gould Inc. in St. Paul, MN, and for the next 17 years he made his home in Wayzata (2065 Webber Hills Road). In 1991 Gould Inc. relocated to the Greater Atlanta area, and the Johns Creek part of Alpharetta became his new, and final, home (715 Old Meadow Glen).

A career in Sales, Marketing & Product Management for Gould Inc., Gould National Battery (GNB), Pacific Dunlap and Exide Batteries ended when Don retired in 2000, but not before spending six exciting months working on assignment in New Zealand in 1996/1997.

Woody’s family life began when he married Marion Clausen of New Rochelle, NY in 1967. Son Peter arrived in 1969 when they lived in Basking Ridge, and daughter Carolyn joined the team there in 1971.

A lifetime of travelling, for both business and vacation reasons, took Woody and Marion to almost every state and major city in the US, as well as to Argentina, Canada, the Caribbean, China, Germany, Great Britain, France (including Normandy), New Zealand, and Russia.

Forever a voracious reader, starting in high school, it is safe to say that few (maybe no one) had more books than Woody. Numerous walls in his house were totally consumed from floor to ceiling with a bookshelf; and because he made sure all the book jackets were pristine, their multi-colors provided a unique version of wallpaper in many rooms.

Woody’s wife Marion predeceased him in 2016, as did his sister Sally Gray Perry in 2022. He is survived by his son Peter and daughter-in-law Cindy of Alpharetta; granddaughters Alexandra of NYC and Cathryn of Ann Arbor, MI; daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Malcolm MacLear, and grandson Archer of Darien, CT; brother Willard and sister-in-law Barbara of Setauket, NY; brother Phillip and sister-in-law Carole of Yardville, NJ; and numerous nieces and nephews.

By Will Gray