Alum estate to benefit English Department

July 29, 2010
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A woman whose Air Force career taught her to stand up to those in positions of authority left her estate to the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Patricia A. Gray of Cascade died July 27, 2009 at age 78. She graduated with honors from UCCS in 1986, having enrolled at the university as a 54-year-old freshman following a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

“She was a hard worker and wonderfully efficient,” local lawyer Henry Eastland said of Gray. “She retired as an E-9, the highest rank of enlisted personnel. Through hard work and perseverance, she made her way to the top in an era when it was difficult for women to advance in the military.”

Eastland handled the estate for Gray who had no heirs but fond memories of her time at UCCS.

According to the Office of Admissions and Records, Gray attended UCCS from Jan. 1984 until her graduation in May 1986 with magna cum laude honors. In the military and in the classroom, Gray was unassuming and intensely private, described by Eastland as being five feet six inches tall, quiet and reserved.

“But she could not be intimidated,” Eastland recalled. “Even by a general.”

Gray directed that her estate, valued at $195,500, be left to the CU Foundation to benefit the UCCS Department of English. Rebecca Laroche, associate professor, English, and department chair said the department will decide this fall how to best use the funds.

“We all are deeply moved by this gift and will do our best to honor Patricia Gray’s wishes,” Laroche said.

Joan Ray, professor, English, remembered Gray as having earned an “A” in a 400-level Special Topics Seminar: “Novels of Political and Social Reform” in 1985.

“From both the comments in my grading book and my memories of Pat as my student, I recall her as fully-engaged, energetic, and thoughtful student who read the novels with care and insight,” Ray said. “A lively and well-informed class participant, Pat was a wonderful example of how the older student with life experience adds a great deal to college classes.”

Following her graduation from UCCS, Gray was active in the American Volkssport Association, serving as its national secretary, as well as participating in numerous walking events. She was also active in The Retired Enlisted Association Chapter One where she was elected as a national director. At the time of her death, she served as second vice president of TREA. She was also active in the Retired Sergeant Majors and Chiefs Association, the Disabled American Veterans, the Air Force Sergeants Association and the Non Commissioned Officers Association.

She was buried with full military honors July 31, 2009 at Evergreen Cemetery.

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