William Torrey Gray, age 79, of Correctionville, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and soon-to-be great grandfather passed away peacefully in the loving presence of his family Monday, November 14, 2022 at the MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center of Sioux City.
A funeral service was held on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM at the Nicklas D. Jensen Funeral Home of Correctionville with Dennis Brockhaus officiating. Burial will be at a later date. Online condolences can be made at nicklasdjensenfh.com.
Bill was diagnosed in March and suffered from a rare and difficult to treat form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called Mantle Cell Lymphoma.
Despite the short year of pain, Bill lived a long life full of love. He married his childhood sweetheart, Marlis, on August 25, 1963. They met in Sunday school and began dating in junior high. After one ill-advised and brief break-up, they spent the remainder of their years together, moving from Washta to Correctionville in 1965. Together, they danced whenever the occasion presented itself, played cards with a tight knit group of friends, hosted snowmobile parties and family events, and raised four children and too many dogs to name.
As a small family farmer, Bill endured the waxing and waning markets, fires to outbuildings, various livestock diseases, and the never-ending quest to keep essential machinery running. This is where Bill shined. He could and did fix anything with motor oil. Dad rarely had riches, but he offered his time and mechanical talents to anyone in need. After finally calling it a day on farming, dad drove the school bus for River Valley, where again, he shined. His punctuality was greatly appreciated by parents and school personnel, his skill at driving and maintaining his bus was valued and respected, and his poor hearing finally became an asset that enabled him to drive for 22 years.
Bill loved his family more than he could put into words and instead, he opted to show them. He showed them through his tireless devotion to keeping the family farm in operation, he showed them through his curiosity which led to inventions to ease their workload, he showed them by asking questions about the things they loved, and he showed them by loving his grandchildren and pets with a steady and fierce pride.
Through too many phone calls to mention, Bill warned us about impending weather or an item on sale they might need or asked about something he’d read and wondered if we could do more research. Always, in case there was ever a doubt, he let us know it was him by saying, “Yes, this is dad.” The family is grateful to have hours of saved voicemails from Bill Gray all sent from his flip phone conveniently placed on the left button of his bib overalls.
Bill loved his farm, his John Deere tractors, his ponies, his dogs Zeke and Herb, and his wife. A perfect day was a ride on his Gator to feed the ponies with his dogs. Later he’d call his grandson to find out his plan for the day, tinker on what needed tinkering, and prepare bean soup for his lunch. More phone calls and tinkering would fill his afternoon until his standing Jeopardy date with Mom.
An avid reader, he’d find his glasses after dinner so he could study his farm magazines or settle in with Louis L’amour and a cold beer.
Our hearts are broken and filled to the brim because Bill Gray made them so. We are forever grateful for his love, tenacity, and lively spirit which will live on in each of us. Raise a glass to Bill Gray!
He is survived by his wife, Marlis Gray (Carstens), son Joshua Gray (Leslie Gotto), daughters Lisa Gray (Bob Wilfahrt) and Angie Gray, grandchildren Cotlon Gray (Chrissa Deeds) and baby boy G, Logan Gray (Alexia Kemper), Karsten Gray, Landon Gray, Lucy Wilfahrt and Benjamin Wilfahrt; sister Shari Pretzer (Wallace), Lanny Gray (Patty), and Jim Gray (Marci) and nieces and nephews.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Russell and Louise Gray and in-laws Emil and Helen Carstens, and his son, Kelley Gray.
Memorial funds will be directed to the following organizations in memory of Bill as they have played a significant role in his life and that of his family: Correctionville Fire Department, Cushing Fire Department, Kirby Place at the Walsh Family Village (Averra McKInnon Hospitals, Sioux Falls, SD), NORD (center for research on rare diseases), Cushing Library