Cover photo for Maj. Thomas Bruce Gray, USAF (Ret.)'s Obituary
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Maj. Thomas Bruce Gray, USAF (Ret.)

June 25, 1951 — June 3, 2024

Bonaire

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Major Thomas Bruce Gray, USAF (Ret.), 72 years old, entered into his eternal rest on Monday, June 3, 2024. 

The son of the late Thomas Stuart Gray and Doris Ellis Gray, Tom was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 25, 1951. When he was very young, he was adopted by his late paternal grandmother, Ann Martin Gray, an immigrant from County Armagh, Ireland. His grandmother came from Ireland through Ellis Island but the family never forgot their Irish roots. He was a meat and potatoes man, through and through.

A graduate of West Springfield High School, Tom went on to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts. Even while he was young, Tom felt a duty to his country and participated in the ROTC while in college. He joined the United States Air Force and spent the next 22 years serving his country in active duty and as a reservist. His patriotism didn’t stop there as he would spend the remainder of his working life in civil service from the 90s to early 2010s, racking up nearly 50 years of working for the government. 

When he was in ROTC he was on track to be a missileer. With the end of the Vietnam War that position was no longer needed.  Tom was then reassigned to Services where he helped bake a 700 lb. cake in the shape of the United States. In 1986 he went to Aircraft Maintenance Officer School (AMOC) and was a maintainer the rest of his career for C-5 and C-130 aircraft.

Tom served as the Executive Officer to the commander Westover Air Reserve Base. In that position, he was responsible to ensure the directives, policies and desires of the commander were implemented and carried out base-wide. Being the affable person that he was, this assignment was an easy task for Tom as folks gravitated to him and respected him. And in many ways Tom was the grease that kept the well-oiled machine known as Westover ARB running smoothly. 

Tom was also a loyal member of the Westover Consolidated Club for officer, enlisted and civilian members which was the social hub of the base. There he enjoyed the company and conversation, and maybe a beverage of their choice, of many of his friends who will miss his viewpoint, sharp wit and wisdom. Many important base decisions were made in this setting with a cigarette in one hand and a J&B in the other.  At his core, Tom always had the wellbeing of the base and its personnel at heart.

Besides Westover ARB, Tom was also at Keesler Air Force Base and retired from Robins Air Force Base. He served during both Operation Desert Shield and Storm. Tom had what most people would consider a dream job. His work led him to places all over the world including Egypt, Israel, and Portugal, one of the places where he actually enjoyed his time. His favorite place to be was at home with his dogs. Whether curled up with them on the couch or one of them sleeping under his feet at the bar, the Gray house was always a haven for animals. Over the years Tom and Sharon, so often accidentally, somehow acquired, adopted or rescued many dogs, cats and horses. Tom rescued their dog Tramp from a gas station where he’d been dumped. Their dog Dolly was dumped at a farm and brought to their house by some friends. They were asked if they’d take her in and of course they did.

He was a good man, a grumpy one, but good. He was not a churchgoing man but lived the life of one. To paraphrase what the Lord said, whatever you do for the least of me, you do for me. He embraced that wholeheartedly. He and his wife of 35 years, Sharon Gray, took homeless people into their home. One had a Rottweiler as big as a house. Many times they were there for best friends and strangers who maybe needed a leg up, a meal or a car payment. They gave them both the meal and work to fill in the gap. Tom was generous and usually paid them more than was expected. He was generally a curmudgeon about it, as a good Irishman always is, but he always gave of himself. The Grays hosted parties, get togethers and random people showing up for conversation like it was their own on-base club. There was never a shortage of thought-provoking conversations, alcohol or food when Tom was behind the bar.

Tom may not have been a churchgoer, but he believed, not overtly or ostentatiously but well. Was he a saint? By no means. Did he enjoy his scotch? In every sense of the word. But he did for the least of us as should we all.

“The Lord said unto him, Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:21

Ar dheis De go raibh a-anamacha translated from Gaelic means, may they (he) rest in peace. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Doris Gray, and his grandmother, Ann Gray as well as his precious dogs, Lassie, Heidi, Bailey, Tramp, and Birchie.

He was a devoted husband and friend to all. His memory will forever be cherished by wife, Lt. Commander Sharon Schultz Gray, USN (Ret.) of Bonaire; sister-in-law, Jacqueline Schultz DeGerald and brother-in-law, Master Chief Intelligence Specialist Dennis DeGerald, USN (Ret.) of The Villages, FL; cousins, Beryl Gray Knox (Lawrence) of Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and Gary Lovin of Blountsville, AL; and his beloved and treasured puppies, Oreo and Dolly.

In honor of his Irish heritage, the family will host an Irish Wake at the family’s home on Saturday to celebrate the life of a man who touched so many lives. As he was so fond of saying, “how bout them Cubbies?” The official toast will be at 6:25 p.m. in honor of Tom’s birthday, but family and friends are invited from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Contact the family for more information.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be made in Tom Gray’s name to the Houston County Humane Society, 810 Carl Vinson Parkway, Centerville, GA 31028 or via website at https://www.humanesocietyhoco.org/donate.php.

Go to www.mcculloughfh.com to sign the Online Registry for the family.  McCullough Funeral Home and Crematory has the privilege of being entrusted with these arrangements.


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Service Schedule

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Saturday, June 8, 2024

1:00 - 9:00 pm (Eastern time)

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The official toast will be at 6:25 p.m. in honor of Tom’s birthday.

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