A gifted and talented teacher, mentor and friend

By Jean Lawrence | Oct 14, 2017

On Saturday, Sept. 30, friends from the Midcoast met at Littlefield Memorial Baptist Church in Rockland for a celebration of the resurrection and a service of thanksgiving for the life of Marion P. Gray. The service was conducted by the Rev. Robert Dent with Anthony Antolini at the piano. Serving as Honor Guards were members of American Legion Post No. 34, Tenants Harbor.

The service was filled with music, which all who attended knew was Marion’s life and was so well demonstrated in the work that she did as she filled her years of retirement here on the coast she loved. Founder of the Down East Singers, Marion touched many lives with her musical talent. She served as organist in several churches, instituted the Christmas sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” in Rockland and directed theatrical productions in Camden.

For more than 10 years beginning in the 1980s, Gray served as a beloved substitute at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, where she taught almost every class, undertook two long-term sub positions in the music department and lovingly was dubbed “Sgt. Gray” by her students. She served as a mentor for the school’s Gifted and Talented Program in 1983-84.

Volunteering was in Marion’s blood; she worked in the Spectrum organization, marched and rode in parades, served within the American Legion and with both the state and national WAVES International. Marion volunteered at Bartlett Woods for years and made it her final home. She loved people, productions and a job well done. A state of New York Teacher of the Year recipient, she also performed a concert at Carnegie Hall. From her 1979 retirement until just a few years ago, many accolades and newspaper articles were created about her gifts to the community. Her death in July closed a life of witness and service.

Highlights of Gray’s memorial service included the rendition of “Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord” by Donald Fishel, led by the Down East Singers; a solo, “I’ll Walk with God” by Willie Lake and an anthem, “It is Well with My Soul” by Lake and former members of the Calvary Methodist Youth Choir of the Bronx, which Marion founded many years ago. Diane Turcotte gave a remembrance from WAVES International; niece Carol Naughton gave a family remembrance; and I, a longtime friend, told of Marion’s time at Medomak and our 37-year friendship.

The “Navy Hymn,” military honors and the sounding of “Taps” concluded the service. Marion’s life was the epitome of F. Pratt Green’s text “When in our music God is glorified and adoration leaves no room for pride, it is as though the whole creation cried, ‘Allelulia!’”

Jean Lawrence lives in Waldoboro.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ragna Weaver | Oct 17, 2017 05:38

Marion will be missed at the Finnish Church. She started up a Finnish Choir, & was also a great friend, R.I. P. Marion

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 14, 2017 16:19

A fit  goodbye celebration of a life that filled the world with music! It was a privilege to sing in one of her musical productions.

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever

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