James “Jim” Frank Gray passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones on October 24, 2020 at his home outside of Fairfield. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Gorder-Jensen Funeral Home and private services will take place at a later date, at the family fishing pond, where Jim’s remains will be laid to rest next to his daughter, June Gray.
Jim was born on March 19, 1932 in Newton, Kansas to Blanche Jewel Watson-Gray and James L. Gray. Jim and his family lived in Newton, Kansas; Prescott, Arizona; Ashfork, Arizona and Barstow, California. Jim moved back to Newton, Kansas where he attended Newton High School and graduated in May of 1950.
After graduating High School Jim landed an apprenticeship with Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (ATE-SF) working there from September 1950 to January 1951. Following, Jim was a mechanic for Moulds Auto Repair from January 1951 to October 1951 when he enlisted into the United States Army. He completed Basic Training at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in April of 1952 and spent the rest of his service as a mechanic and Paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne. He was honorably discharged on October 8, 1953.
In September of 1954 Jim moved to California and attended Santa Ana College. While attending, Jim met and fell in love with Virginia “Ginger” S. Harrison and the couple was married November 23, 1955 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jim continued his education attending Long Beach State College from September 1956 to June 1957. In June of 1956 Jim became a mechanic for Hobbs Trucking and he continued living in Garden Grove, California until June of 1960. Jim and Ginger were blessed with two girls and with their growing family Jim decided to move to Fairfield, Montana. He worked for Bennett Motors in Great Falls, Montana from July 1960 to June 1962 at which time he took a job as a Boeing Mechanic for Malmstrom Air Force Base until March of 1964. His son was born in Montana during this time. In his later years, Jim was a first a Representative, then a Division Manager, and worked his way up to Regional Vice President of Waddell & Reed, where he oversaw offices with over 400 representatives in 9 states. He was also Vice President for High Standard.
Jim was a family man. His children were very important to him their whole lives. He was very thoughtful and giving to others and was always willing to help even when he could no longer physically do the hard work. He was always there for support and advice when asked for. His favorite quote “This is living!” was always said with a smile.
Jim was an avid fisherman, hunter and gunsmith. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed building and constructing things. He was part of the Red Hill Rifle & Pistol Club in Tustin, California; the Rocky Mountain Rifle Club in Fairfield and was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He was a longtime member of the Weapons Collectors Society and The High Standard Collectors Association. Jim was also on the Fairfield High School Board for approximately 10 years and was a member of the Lion’s Club, VFW, and American Legion for many years.
Jim is survived by his wife Virginia “Ginger” Gray of the family home in Fairfield, daughter Carey A Gray (Bob Snider) and son C. Russell Gray (Trish) as well as 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
Jim is preceded in death by his parents James and Blanche Gray, daughter June M. Gray, brother Roy Russell Gray and his maternal and paternal grandparents.
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