Marion P. Gray passed away at her home at Bartlett Woods, Rockland, Maine, on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, on September 10, in 1924, she was the eldest daughter of Walter and Clara Gray. She was predeceased by her parents and two sisters, Edna and Grace.
Survivors include nephews and nieces: Stephen Burke and wife Jean of Limrick, ME; James Burke, Jr. of Hudson MA; Ellen Burke of Whitensville; Carol Naughton and husband Richard of Milford, MA; Yvonne Giagiari and husband Lawrence of Cape Cod, MA; June Mossey; Herbert Holmes of TN and several great nieces and nephews.
Upon graduating from Framingham High School where she was the accompanist for several school vocal groups, Marion attended the New England conservatory of Music in Boston from 1942-44 majoring in organ. On her twentieth birthday, she enlisted in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Enlistment Service (WAVES) and began service in 1944. She rose to the rank of Yeoman Third Class, was secretary to two chaplains and assumed responsibilities of supporting religious services by playing the organ and directing choirs. On weekends, Marion was Music Director at Calvary Methodist Church, Bronx, where she played a four manual Hillgreen organ and directed three choirs. She was mustered out of service in 1946, and was present when General Dwight D. Eisenhower visited NY City as well as the celebrations of VE Day and VJ Days. Through the GI Bill, Marion attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ where she received her BA in music. She also worked as a private secretary on Wall Street from 1949-1957, continued her music director work, and lived with her best friend Louise Gunn, husband and Louise’s mother and became a member of the family.
In 1959, she was hired as a music teacher for Woodbury Junior and Senior High Schools, in Monroe, NY, and continued her close friendship with Louise and her mother. Marion’s teaching career continued until retirement in 1979. During her first year as a teacher, she gave an organ recital at Carnegie Hall, NYC, in conjunction with the New York State Teachers Association. She was presented the first Monroe Woodbury Teacher of the Year award in 1974. Her collaboration with other teachers and subjects brought many new and exciting experiences for her students. Marion is remembered for many school musical productions, her favorites being Annie Get Your Gun in which she acted in the role of Annie while directing an all teacher cast, and the student production of Oklahoma in which she included a horse and wagon, three goats, and a vocalizing rooster to the cast. She directed many district school festivals and taught ballroom dancing. Throughout her teaching years, she continued her church work as Minister of Music at the Monroe Presbyterian Church where she directed three choirs, played the organ
and made many friends.
She retired to Port Clyde, ME where she had enjoyed summer vacations as a member of Louise’s family. In retirement, Marion continued her connection with children by serving as a substitute teacher primarily at Medomak Valley High School and other area schools. Her dear friend Louise passed away shortly after retirement, and Marion continued living in Port Clyde while creating new chapters in her very busy life. In 1981, she directed the first of three productions for the Camden Civic Theater and in 1982, she was guest conductor for the Sea Coast High School Music Festival held in Camden. She played the organ at the Ridge Baptist Church for many summers, and in 2001 played the organ at the Finnish Church every other Sunday for fourteen years. In 1979, Marion founded the Downeast Singers, a chorus of community singers which is still in existence, and served as director until 1991. Her Messiah Christmas Sing Along programs, to which anyone who loved to sing the piece was welcome, became famous in the midcoast area, and one of her final directing concerts was filmed and shown on national television.
Over the years, Marion was active as a volunteer in Senior Spectrum and often entertained the residents of Bartlett Woods, where she chose to make her home and where she often played the piano and held sing alongs for the other residents.
Miss Gray’s love of the military and their service to our country continued in her retirement as she was a member of the Tenant’s Harbor American Legion post where she served as commander and adjutant. She marched or rode in all parades. As a charter member of WAVES International, she supported the movement to push for the creation of a permanent place for women in the armed services which was accomplished in 1948. She also served the organization at national conventions where she provided music and directed volunteer choirs. She was present at the at Arlington National Cemetery dedication of the memorial to all women who served the country in WWII. Contributions in Marion’s memory may be directed to the Humane Society of Knox County, Wounded Warriors, Gary Sinise Foundation for Veterans, the Bill O Reilly Chair Fund for Veterans or any favorite veterans’ organization.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 30th 2017- 12:00 noon at the Littlefield Memorial Baptist Church, 1 Waldo Avenue, Rockland, Maine. . All who loved and respected this woman whose life was filled with love for people and music will be welcomed.
Hall’s of Thomaston has care of the arrangements. To extend online condolences visit her Book of memories at www.hallfuneralhomes.com