Marty Gray was born May 10, 1949, to Sammye Williams Gray and Dudie Gray. He grew up on the family ranch established in the 1860s, proud of being the fifth generation of a ranching heritage.
He claimed he never wanted to be a cowboy, but as a young boy, he and his black dog roamed the pastures. He and his horse rode beyond the boundaries of the family ranch to visit neighbors who had kind words, cowboy wisdom, and cookies always waiting for him. He rodeoed in junior rodeos, he hunted, he fished, he understood livestock, and he delighted in the sight of a new Hereford calf lying on the spring-green grass.
His dad said he lost Marty as a cowboy to team sports when Marty joined a Little League team at 8 years old. Being a real cowboy was never lost in Marty; it was merely redefined. In later years, he called himself a country gentleman.
When he left the ranch for Baylor in 1967, he tried various disciplines: medicine, but he did not ever want to lose a patient; law, but he really did not want to wear a starched white shirt every day; English and history, but what could he do with that double major? Then, he found what would become a most rewarding career: nurturing young people, teaching English and history while coaching team sports.
His teaching career began in the fall of 1972 in Bynum, Texas. After nine years there, he began teaching in Hillsboro, Texas, where he remained for 10 years. In 1991, he returned home to Cherokee, Texas, teaching there for 11 years — thus completing 30 rewarding years of loving enlightenment.
He said he was afflicted early on with the love of reading by his mother and later on by Charles Perry. He fell in love with words, and he, in turn, afflicted some of his own students with literature, poetry, grammar, and diagramming. He afflicted us all with his well-told jokes, from Shaggy Dog stories to clever puns. His favorite all-time books were “Huck Finn,” “Moby Dick,” “Little Big Man,” “True Grit,” “Lonesome Dove,” and “The Time It Never Rained.” He said that if had had another lifetime to live, he would have become a historical novelist.
He married Shirley Low, his lifelong sweetheart. He cherished her. They shared a rare and special relationship. The next girl he treasured who came into his life was their daughter, Laura. He thought that he could not love any other little girls as dearly, but when granddaughters Allison and Brianna appeared, Marty fell happily into the role of the perfect Pap-pa.
Marty died at home March 18, 2019. He was preceded in death by four loving grandparents, his parents, and a younger brother, Scott Gray. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter, Laura Gray Pratt and her husband, Adam Pratt; his treasured granddaughters, Allison Pratt and Brianna Pratt; his brother, Dr. Mark Gray; and sister, Becky Gray McCarty and her husband, Bart McCarty. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews; his sister-in-law, Shannon Gray; his brother-in-law Ronnie Low and wife Cami; and brother-in-law and special friend James Low and his wife, Mary.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 23, at First Baptist Church of Cherokee with the Rev. Shannon Bond officiating.
In lieu of flowers, Marty requested that donations be given to M.D. Anderson Children’s Cancer Crusade or a favorite cancer fund.
Arrangements by Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home, 307 E. Sandstone in Llano, (325) 247-4300. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with condolences.