Joseph F. Gray, 93, died at his home in Schooner Cove Independent Living in Damariscotta on June 11. He was born Nov. 11, 1923 in Vandergrift, Westmoreland County, Penn., the son of Joseph H. Gray and Anna Florinda Lucas.
Joe enlisted in the Army in 1941, and served in North Africa, Italy, France, Germany and Austria, and later in the Reserves, retired as Captain, CE-USAR.
The GI Bill enabled him to earn a B.S. degree in forestry at Penn State. He worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Tennessee Valley Authority and New York State Natural Gas, now Dominion Resources. In the field, he supervised acquisition of 500 million tons of coal, land and resources primarily as special projects engineer and supervisor of Lease and Right-of-Way for Pennsylvania in production, storage and transmission of natural gas, during his 32 working years, throughout eastern U.S.
His retirement found him as a volunteer interpretive naturalist, working with Tanglewood 4-H Camp & Learning Center (retiring as director emeritus) and Mid-Coast Audubon Society as two-term president, director and program presenter. In his retirement, he lived in Jefferson and served on the executive boards of Knox-Lincoln County Cooperative Extension, Pine Tree State Arboretum, Maine Outdoor Education Association, and Maine Extension Association.
His later years were dedicated to writing, producing the weekly Nature Notes column since 1990; a book, Nature Embraced; a book of compiled Nature Notes titled Nature’s Mystiques; and 25 short stories (untitled) and 100 Poems “From A Naturalist’s Pen,” the latter two unpublished.
He was a 70-year member of the American Legion, Life Member of the VFW, 50-year Golden Member of the Society of American Foresters, an active member of the Josslyn Botanical Society and Maine Entomological Society. He was a 50-year Master Mason, member of Jefferson’s Riverside Lodge, Valley of Rockland Consistory, Kora Shrine Temple and Mid-Coast Shrine Club.
He received many awards for volunteerism during his life, and the three most coveted were the National Fish and Wildlife Award, Boy Scouts Central West Virginia Council’s Silver Beaver Award, and the National Audubon’s William F. Dutcher Award for regional volunteerism. Other awards were the DAR medal for conservation, and several Kno-Wal-Lin Home Health honors for volunteerism.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Carolyn Wilhelm; sons, Philip Charles and wife Jolene of South Portland, and William Paul and wife Linda of Bridgeport, W.V; daughter, Suzanne Carol Codling and husband Donnie of Clarksburg, W.Va.; grandsons, Bryan Joseph Lewis of Hilliard, Ohio, Christopher Gray of Austin, Tex., and William Nobles of Bridgeport, W.Va.; granddaughters, Catherine Nicole Gray of Bridgeport, W.Va., and Angela Hart of Seabrook, Tex.; great-granddaughter, Solara Olivia Lewis of Hilliard, Ohio; nephew, Richard Coulter of Williamsport, Penn.; niece, Joyce Wierzchowski; nephews, Stephen and Ernest “Chip” Coulter of Pittsburgh, Penn.; as well as six other great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m., Sat., July 15 at St. Giles’ Episcopal Church, Rt. 126, Jefferson.
In lieu of flowers, contributions for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, may be directed to Million Dollar Club, c/o Mid-Coast Shrine Club, PO Box 193, Nobleboro, ME 04555.
Condolences, and messages for his family, may be expressed by visiting www.StrongHancock.com.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta.