George Gray celebrates birthday with Greta Master...
Continued from page 4 beneficial for the students,” the centenarian said. Gray also hasn’t forgotten about when he first arrived in Denver and worked at a manufacturing plant making boxes. “My very first home in Denver was the Glenarm Branch YMCA. I left my wife in Pennsylvania, and we did a lot of talking back and forth on the phone. I had yet to send for her,” he said. “She told me, ‘If we keep this talking going on, I’m not going to be able to get to Denver.’” Gray can’t tell you exactly when he got the dancing bug, but he managed to dance up until he broke his hip in 2009. “I don’t have a solid reason for dancing, but it’s good exercise and builds relationships. In my neighborhood growing up, we had a lot of dance parties in the different homes.” He was known to dance at the Denver Art Museum and was a regular at many clubs around Denver. Master said her uncle never drank coffee or any alcoholic beverages. Every bartender in town knew what his favorite drink was – water with a cherry, slice of lemon or lime, and no ice, she said. Joe Holenbek, Gray’s friend who is a guitar player with Rudy Grant & the Buffalo Riders, remembered, “It was in the mid-1980s when I met Uncle George. He was just boogying away and right in tune with the music. He has all the energy in the world.” William Hardy, a Mason brother, said, “He just loved to dance. He made a joke about closing places down because he danced all night long.” “I asked him what kept him so young, and he would say, ‘If you can move, keep on movin’,’” remembered Hardy. Sean Gray said his grandfather’s drive to dance was one of the best things about him. “Everywhere we would go, he would dance. He’s like a
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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2011
machine.” The best advice he got from his grandfather, he said, was “love what you do.” Gwen Lester from Detroit has many fond memories of her uncle. “One time I came to visit my sister Gretta who took me to
...and Mary Church - Just lovin’ life!
the train station to go back. Uncle George was with us and when the train started moving, Uncle George started walking, and as the train got faster, Uncle George started walking faster. The train could not leave him. It was amazing,” she said. “My uncle always did say he planned to keep on living. He never had a desire to die.” Skipper Gray admires how his father is always a positive person and has such strength of character. “I grew up in a home that was both matriarchal and patriarchal. I had a mother and father both grounded in southern values. They were community oriented and did things to better this community,” he said. Skipper also loved growing up with so many foster brothers and sisters, and his parents’ guidance and emphasis on sharing a strong value system. “Looking back,” he said, “one of the telling things as time went on was after my mom’s death, and my dad never changed anything in the house. Things were pretty much the same as when she was alive.” “My mom and dad had a partnership when it came to the community and making a difference. That to me is a huge legacy the two of them leave – the caliber of how they lived their lives and bridges they built in this community,” Skipper said. As the son of a Baptist minister and a faithful church member with spiritual roots still firmly grounded, Gray will tell you that he has yet another 100 years to finish living. “I’m hankering on being around for awhile,” he’s quick to say.
Published on Nov 1, 2011