PENOBSCOT — Philip Boyd Gray, 87, died Monday March 28, 2011, at Penobscot Nursing Home. He was born April 13, 1923, to Harold and Mabel C. Gray.
Phil was proud to be born in the house he was raised in and spent his boyhood years working on the family farm. He graduated salutatorian from Clark High School in Penobscot and enlisted in the Air Force in 1940. After a church service in Walters, Okla., grandmother Young brought the young airman home to have a nice hot meal where he met his future wife, Betty Sue Young. They stayed in touch during his three-year military career and were married on Christmas Eve 1943 during a horrific storm. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of sergeant. Phil and Betty were blessed with six children, two born in California, Phyllis and Steven, and four in Castine, Jean, George, Joyce and Byron. For a time, they were a bicoastal family. The Gray family farm had a menagerie of animals, but Philip’s passion was always for the horses. He loved giving sleigh rides in winter, hay wagon rides in summer, and even pony rides in the wagon for the children. Most knew Philip from his 30 years with the HOME Co-Op in Orland, where he was in charge of building homes for low-income families and coordinating the volunteer groups. Philip was much loved by the people at HOME and all the volunteers. “Don’t worry about it, just nail it!” was Phil’s catch-phrase and many homes were built based on this motto. Earlier, Phil had varied careers including work for a railroad company in California and a logging camp in northern Maine, where his family was able to travel with him. For several years, he was a foreman on a potato field in northern Maine and was later employed by two local mines in Cape Rosier and Blue Hill. He retired from his work with HOME at 62 to spend more time with his loving wife, Betty, affectionately known to him as “Bet.”
Philip is survived by Phyllis and Loyal, Jean and Harold; daughter-in-law, Amy; Steven and Julie, Joyce and Tim, Byron and Richard; daughter-in-law, Wendy and Dennis. Philip is also survived by his sister, Pauline. His legacy includes 22 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Phil was predeceased by parents, Harold and Mabel; wife, Betty; son, George; and great-granddaughter, Kallie.
Family and friends will gather for visitation 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at Mitchell-Tweedie Funeral Home, 28 Elm St., Bucksport, where funeral services will be at noon Thursday, March 31, 2011, with the Rev. Allen Myers. Interment will be later in the spring at Bayview Cemetery, Penobscot. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to First Light Farm Equine Shelter, 576 Shore Road, Perry, ME 04667. Call (207) 952-0352 or email [email protected] referencing Philip Gray in your donation.