Doris O'Dell Barnes Gray
sed from this life on Friday, August 8 at her home with her family at her side. She was born in Fordyce, Arkansas, on May 7,1926, to Clara Lee Hughes and Neal dark Barnes. She was a country girl who worked hard all of her life. She did the daily chores that were assigned her with a willing and cheerful spirit and never complained. This early life gave her the independence of mind and the determination that she needed to carry her through every trial life would present. Many would examine her life and call it a simple life but that was far from the truth. Doris Gray lived a rich life and she had much to show for it.
For all of her life her high school diploma hung on her bedroom wall. She was proud of the accomplishment and really did earn it. After completing the 8th grade in the typical rural school, she made the decision to go to town and finish her education. Getting up before sunrise, she walked through the dark woods to the highway and caught a public bus into town. She persevered and after graduation was offered a position to teach at her rural school. Her inheritance for this early life was two parents who loved her and allowed her to think independently and practice responsibility. Her work ethic was undeniable and she loved her job. When a boss hired Doris Gray, that boss got more than a day’s work for a day’s pay. She was honest, loyal, diligent and painstakingly meticulous whether she was serving a meal, building a television or window, or sending a truck driver on his way with a load of bricks. Ms Doris’s face was the face you were glad to see early in the morning and she was always early; her smile was the way to start a good day. The drivers at Acme knew that Ms Doris was going to take care of them. This did not mean that she allowed any slacking on records; she could sit a driver down and take them to school on what they needed to do and how to do right. She did it with a grin and raised eyebrows and she got no arguments. You just didn’t mess with Ms Doris.
Galatians 5:22-23, 25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” This Biblical description embodied Doris Gray. Her goodness was apparent to everyone that knew her and that sentiment was expressed many times over the past week. Where many a person might get caught up in seven deadly sins, our mother and grandmother was awash with grace and love. She never uttered unkind words even when unkind words might have been earned by a transgressor. You knew when you crossed a line with her, not because she said so, but because she set her jaw and looked away. She wasn’t going to call you down but she wasn’t going to participate in unfairness. Even when she was treated unfairly she had this capacity to forgive that was boundless. Once when she was the victim of a thief she dismissed any judgment with “I’ve lived most of my life without that and I can live the rest of my life without it.” Material things meant very little to her but she was sentimental and that sentimentality was apparent. In July, Donnie painted her bedroom and in preparation, he found a small heart shaped box that had once had Hershey’s Kisses in it. It was not anything fancy or expensive, not even a ribbon or a rose adorned it but when he turned it over, in her neat handwriting it said “From Donnie -1999.” Something so simple meant so much. And there were so many other things - stuffed animals hand made by little hands or presented with love by a fellow worker, balloons that had long ago lost their bounce, and lots of photos. These were the things that meant the most to her. She lived a simple life full of love and she was content. If she did not get the love she deserved, she loved; when life was unfair she exemplified fair-mindedness with forgiveness and grace.
Doris married James Gray and she had three children, Darrell, Wanda and Donnie - each two years apart and most likely a real handful for any mother. She was known to tell them, “Now don’t get hurt until I get back,” but they knew she wasn’t too good with blood so they didn’t pay much attention to that rule. They had a mother who worked and so they became each other’s keepers and managed to find something relatively safe to keep themselves occupied. Each child was treated equally and fairly down to the dollar and the hug. Mama had a way of making each child feel loved, but each child knew that the love was distributed equally and that made a family full of enough love for everyone.
If you knew anything about Doris Gray, you knew she was a dog person. Any dog lucky enough to be her dog did not lead a dog’s life. Tippy, Bruiser, Ewok, Muff, Bubba and finally Lucky. They got a bath every week whether they needed it or not and Muff knew the days of the week - if Doris didn’t go to work, it was Saturday and she would go to her hidey-hole to avoid a bath. Dogs got treats and some of those treats were appreciated by humans - like fried bacon every morning and ice cream with Mama before bedtime. Doris Gray was laid to rest on Sunday at Regency Funeral Home. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and one grandson-in-law, Travis Cox. She is survived by her three children, Darrell Gray, Wanda Branum (Arnold) and Donnie Gray (Cindy); her grandchildren, Shanna Jordan (Robin), Stephanie Gray Cox, Neal Gray, Heather Kindy (Mark), and Brian Branum; her great-grandchildren, Cameron Jordan, Rachel (Ryan) Callendar, Grayson and Dalton Cox, Carson (Allexa) and Parker Kindy; one great-great-grandchild, Gideon Kindy, and a sister, Barbara (John) Matkin. Her love will be cherished for the rest of our lives.
Proverbs 31:10, 25-31 Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done virtuously but thou excel them all.
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.