Obituary of James Stewart Gray
It is with profound sadness that we announce that James (“Jim”) Stewart Gray, 76, passed away unexpectedly on July 24, 2019 at Ocean Medical Center, Brick.
Jim was a beloved father and grandfather (affectionately known as “Poppie”) who dedicated many of his years to public service especially within Manalapan Township and Monmouth County.
Jim was a big man. Not just in stature, but in presence and spirit. His stories were engaging, his jokes sometimes funny, and his company always cherished. He was a doting husband, father and the most fun Poppie a kid could ever want. He was a doer and never sat still.
He believed in giving back to the community and made it his profession to make Manalapan, Monmouth County and wherever he resided, a better place for everyone. His devoted wife, Janet, stood by his side and aided in many of these pursuits. They were always friends of the community.
Jim was born in Baltimore and graduated from Western Maryland College. Jim and Janet met in college, a love story more than 50 years in the making. Some of their closest friends are from college. In 2007, McDaniel College (formerly known as, Western Maryland College) granted Jim the Alumni Community Service Award.
Jim earned a Masters of Social Work from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was a life-long Tarheel basketball fan looking forward to the annual NCAA tournament. Jim served in the U.S. Army as a captain in the Military Police Corps at Fort Gordon and Fort Benning, Georgia.
He resided in Manalapan for more than 50 years where he and his wife raised their three sons.
His accomplishments are numerous, evidence of his boundless energy. Jim retired as Clerk of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2010 after serving in that position since 2002. He was director of administration for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Newark from 1995 to 2002.
Jim was a Manalapan Township Committeeman from 1984 to 1998. He served five terms as Mayor and four terms as Deputy Mayor. He served as police commissioner, planning board member and recreation liaison. He believed that by serving his town and preserving recreational space, he could make Manalapan a better place to live.
He was a member of the Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission, a member of the Monmouth County Improvement Authority and served as a commissioner to the Monmouth County Library until 2018.
He was a member of the Monmouth County 9/11 Memorial Committee and vice-chairman of the New Jersey State 9/11 Committee.
Jim was a former president of the Manalapan Jaycees, and a founder and first president of the Manalapan Soccer Club where he also was vice president, treasurer and referee.
He was a member of the Manalapan-Englishtown First Aid Squad for 20 years. From 1991 to 1997, Jim was appointed as the Manalapan Emergency Management Coordinator.
He was a member of the Improvement Committee of the Battleground Homeowners Association, a member and former officer of the Yorktown Social Club, an actor with the Community Players, and a member of the Walk with Joe Committee, a memorial to Manalapan residents who died on 9/11.
Jim was named Man of the Year for Community Service to the Citizens and Youth of Manalapan by the Englishtown Knights of Columbus Prince of Peace Council #5902. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Manalapan Recreation for Service to Youth in 1989. In 1991, he was honored by Lodge #100 Knights of Pythias for his years of dedicated service. He received the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce Political Service Award.
In 1998, he received both the Manalapan Recreation Appreciation Award and an Appreciation Award for Service to Manalapan Township by the Gordon’s Corner Fire Company.
He was a recipient of the Award of Merit from the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield in 1999. He received the New Jersey State Employees’ Award, was recognized by the State of New Jersey Public Utilities and received a State of New Jersey Commendation by Senator John Bennett for Community Service.
Jim and Janet are snowbirds spending winters in Highland Beach where they play golf, cribbage, shuffle board and enjoy time with their Florida friends.
In addition to making friends wherever he went, Jim enjoyed golfing with his buddies at the Battleground Country Club, pizza at Frankie Feds, watching his grandson play any sport and taking his granddaughter to the boardwalk rides. He loved visiting his grandchildren at their beach house in Bay Head. Last year, Jim and Janet moved to Point Pleasant to be closer to their grandkids.
His middle son, Christopher Stewart Gray, died in the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 at the age of 32.
Jim was proud of his children and grandchildren’s accomplishments and always told them that “they could do anything” and wanted nothing more than for them to be happy. He will be missed immensely by his family and friends for his bellowing voice, distinctive laugh, corny jokes and bright blue eyes. Jim’s presence left an indelible mark on your memory and heart.
Surviving are his devoted wife and best friend, Janet Walker Gray to whom he was married for 54 years; and two sons, James (“Jay”) Gray of Freehold and Timothy (“Tim”) Walker Gray, his daughter-in-law Anabelle Perez Gray and grandchildren Thomas Christopher and Charlotte Victoria all of Hoboken and a brother Michael.
A memorial service will be held at the Manalapan Township Municipal Building, 120 Route 522, Manalapan on Saturday, August 3, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations would be appreciated to either: the Samaritan Center at 211 County Rd 522, Manalapan Township, NJ 07726; or the “WVU Foundation" memo line “Chris S. Gray Memorial Scholarship” and mailed to WVU Foundation, PO Box 1650, Morgantown, WV 26507-1650. Higgins Memorial Home, Freehold is in charge of arrangements.