Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is saddened to learn that the Honorable Marvin Gray, the first executive director of the organization, died Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Admitted to the N.C. State Bar in 1960, Gray was a trial lawyer who specialized in insurance cases. He was appointed executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County when it was formed in 1967. He served about one year and returned to private practice. Gov. Jim Martin appointed Gray to a seat on the Superior Court in 1986, where he served until his retirement.
The organization now known as Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy was established 50 years ago to provide civil legal assistance to those in need. The then Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County (LASMC) began operation with three attorneys and two secretaries. In 1979, LASMC changed its name to Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP) and expanded to include Cabarrus, Gaston, Stanly and Union Counties. Today, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps domestic violence victims seek protective orders, the sick find healthcare coverage, disabled veterans obtain income and health benefits, senior citizens at risk of scams, homeowners in danger of foreclosure and immigrants in danger of exploitation.
Our condolences go out to the Gray family.
Obituary originally printed in the Charlotte Observer Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017:
CHARLOTTE - The Honorable Marvin Kenneth Gray left this earth to serve a higher court on November 7, 2017. Judge Gray was preceded in death by his wife Carol Hyland Gray, his parents Marvin Lawrence Gray and Lettie Ward Gray, as well as his two sisters, Rita Gray Perry and Sylvia Gray Summers. Judge Gray is survived by his son, Marvin K. Gray, Jr. (Ken) and wife Barbara Fisher Gray; and his daughter, Jane Gray Boland and her husband Mark Daniel Boland. Additionally, he has four granddaughters: Caroline Elizabeth Gray; Emily Gray Massey and husband, Thomas Chase Massey; Ashley Nicole Williams; and Kathryn Gray Boland — along with nieces and nephews sprinkled throughout the Carolinas and in Massachusetts.
Judge Gray was born on March 8, 1931 in the small, unincorporated Gates County, NC community of Hobbsville — founded and settled by his Hobbs ancestors. He attended Hobbsville Elementary School and Elizabeth City High School. At the time of Judge Gray’s graduation from high school, he was awarded the Bonner Award for most valuable football player and captain, and he was also named one of 10 outstanding seniors in his high school graduating class.
Following graduation from high school in 1950, he enrolled at Wake Forest University where he was offered a football scholarship, and he played his freshman year as a defensive tackle and offensive guard.
Judge Gray’s college career was interrupted when he was asked to serve in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He was based at Tempelhof Airfield in the American sector of Berlin. Upon discharge, he returned to Wake Forest University, obtained a B.A degree, and was accepted to Wake Forest University’s School of Law. Judge Gray received his law degree in Spring 1960 and was admitted to the practice of law in September 1960. While at Wake Forest University, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and Phi Delta Phi Law Fraternity.
During the 1960s Judge Gray served as the first executive director of what was then termed the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County. He practiced law in Charlotte as a partner in the law firm of Golding, Crews, Meekins, Gordon and Gray, performing almost entirely civil trial work. While in the practice, Judge Gray held the following offices of the 26th Judicial District Bar: Chairman of the Calendar Committee; member of the Executive Committee; Chairman of the Unauthorized Practice Committee; Chairman of the Grievance and Ethics Committee; member of the Medico Legal Committee; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mecklenburg Legal Services Program; and Charter member of the Chief Justice W.H. Bobbitt American Inn of Courts. During this time, he was also a Charter member of the North Carolina Defense Attorneys; member of the North Carolina Bar Association; member of the Insurance Section of the American Bar Association; member of the American Judicature Society; and a member of the Alumni Board of the Wake Forest University School of Law.
In 1986, Governor James Martin appointed Judge Gray to the Superior Court Bench, and he served continuously in that capacity until he retired on December 31, 2000. Upon retirement, Judge Gray was appointed as an Emergency Superior Court Judge by Governor James Hunt, a position from which he ultimately retired in 2010. During the 23 years he served as a superior court judge, he held many noteworthy positions, including his appointment by Chief Justice Burley Mitchell as the Superior Court Member of the Judicial Standards Commission and later to the Civil Procedure Legislative Study Commission. He was a member of the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges.
During the 1990s, then Conference President Forrest Ferrell appointed Judge Gray as Chairman of a Committee to revise the Superior Court Judge’s Bench Book, which turned out to be a tremendous task, taking about five years to complete and expanding the then Bench Book from one to two volumes (one criminal volume and one civil volume). Judge Gray was always quick to mention that he was assisted by very able Committee members in performing this lengthy and important task.
Judge Gray’s life apart from the law has revolved around the enjoyment of spending countless and unselfish hours with his family, watching his children and grandchildren grow up — he lived his life with conviction, passion, and strength that inspired in his family a legacy of faith and fortitude. He loved participating in family genealogy, and the collection and reading of books on the American Civil War — a collection that is comprised of more than 200 volumes. He was an avid sports fan, and his television was always tuned in to watch college and professional football as well as the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. Additionally in 1965, Judge Gray extended his community leadership by becoming one of the founding members of Rama Swim and Racquet Club and served as its first President. He was a true mentor to not only his family but also their friends. There was rarely an empty space at the Gray dinner table.
In 2009, the Mecklenburg Bar Committee commissioned an artist to paint Judge Gray’s portrait, which today hangs on the sixth floor of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. His proudest moment as an attorney was his appointment to the Superior Court Bench. In the words of Judge Gray, “For me, this is the end of a very pleasant and satisfying career. I have no predictions for the future of the profession. Like the common law, it will go where the circumstances take it.”
Funeral services will be held on Monday, November 13th at 11:00 a.m. at Sardis Presbyterian Church, 6100 Sardis Road, Charlotte, NC, and the family will receive friends in the church’s Fellowship Hall from 12 – 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, 1431 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28204 or to the Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster, 8919 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28210.
In addition, the family would like to thank the staff and residents at Waltonwood of Cotswold for their generous caregiving and loving fellowship over the past year as well as the Levine & Dickson Hospice House during Judge Gray’s final days for their special care they extended to the family. J.B. Tallent Funeral Service is serving the Gray family.
Remembrance in The Charlotte Observer