Mary Ann Gray, 89, of Chatham, Massachusetts, a much-loved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, friend, mentor and inspiration to many, passed away on Thursday, September 14th, with her family by her side.
Mary Ann was born to the late James and Helen Woodward, on March 8, 1934, in New Britain, Connecticut. She graduated from New Britain High School in 1952 and received a BS in Nursing Science in 1956 from University of Connecticut and a Master’s Degree in Nursing at Wayne State University in Michigan. She practiced and taught nursing at County College of Morris in New Jersey for more than 20 years.
Later in life, for her second career as a librarian, she earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Rutgers University and, for her third career as an archivist, a Certificate in Museum Studies at Tufts University. Even with all her degrees, Mary Ann continued her quest for learning. She was a voracious reader and never met a book she didn’t like. She also loved researching genealogy and history, particularly the history of women, and continued researching for a book on the history of women in Chatham until her final days.
Mary Ann married the late Ralph MacDonald Gray in 1960 and, despite her busy career, their six children were the focus of her life, with the family home in Morristown, New Jersey and the summer cottage in Chatham, Massachusetts, being a hubbub of activity throughout the years.
The happiness of her family, which came to include the spouses of her six children, eight grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren, were her top priority. She had a special relationship with each family member and always enjoyed visiting with each of them on an individual basis to learn about their lives and interests as well as bringing the whole family together for holidays and the annual 4th of July reunion in at the family cottage in Chatham. She was never too busy to attend the numerous sporting events, graduations and birthday celebrations, and she traveled far and wide to visit family over the years, from Hawaii and Europe to California, Ohio and even Jonesport, Maine, where she traced her family roots.
Mary Ann was a strong woman, some have even called her feisty in her later years, and she fostered resiliency in her children as well as the importance of supporting each other. She also actively engaged in community causes and clubs, including being an active member of the First Congregational Church and serving as a longtime volunteer archivist at the Atwood Museum and on the Chatham Board of Health. She also was a member of various clubs including the Cape Cod Miniature Society, the Old Village Association and the Garden Club.
Mary Ann loved gardening, animals, knitting, drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at the Chatham Lighthouse, watching the sunset over Oyster Pond and going out for an ice cream sundae with lots of chocolate sauce and extra whip cream (she always said, “You drive, I’ll buy!”). She also loved being a mom, grandmother and great grandmother and was always there for her family no matter what the situation or time of day to listen without judgement. She knew how to make you feel special like not many people in life can do. For that, and so many other reasons, she will truly be missed.
Mary Ann is survived by her six children: Megan Thomas (Stephen) of London, Ohio; Martha Crawford (Dr. Richard) of Yarmouth, Maine; Pamela Runquist (Dr. Benton) of Davis, California; Susan Jodice (Leon) of Chatham, Massachusetts; Sarah Slay (Hudson) of Kailua, Hawaii, and William Gray (Kristen) of Westborough, Massachusetts. She also is survived by eight grandchildren (Caitlin, Wesley, Vincent, Luke, Grace, Andrew, Walker and Emily) and two great grandchildren (Benny and Jett).
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Atwood Museum or the charity of your choice.
Services will be held at First Congregational Church in Chatham at 11:00 am on Monday, September 18th. Burial will be at the People’s Cemetery in Chatham at 1:30 pm. A Celebration of Life tribute for Mary Ann will be held at a later date. For online condolences and upcoming service information, please visit www.nickersonfunerals.com