Remembering Dr. Richard Gray, Distinguished Alum & Trustee

Richard M. Gray, former SFTS Trustee of 16 years and Distinguished Alum (1988), passed away on March 17, 2017. Born in Washington, D.C. on January 25, 1924, he grew up there and in Mystic, CT. before entering Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of 18 in 1942 with majors in English and History. After serving as an officer with the U.S. Navy in World War II, Dr. Gray worked for one of the largest advertising agencies in the country at the time, N.W. Ayer.

After 16 years with N.W. Ayer, he came to the west coast to study for his Master of Divinity at SFTS, which he received summa cum laude in 1961. He then served as a university pastor for seven years at Portland State University in Oregon, where he helped develop an ecumenical ministry of eight denominations and build a jointly conducted program and campus center known as Koinonia House. In 1972, he earned a PhD in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

Gray was also moved by a strong concern for the individual development of students, and concluded that his calling in life was to create collaborative learning communities. In 1973, he founded the innovative World College West in Marin County, integrating business ethics and finance with social and environmental values. Evolving into the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, they paved the way for students to obtain a “Green MBA” and popularized the business values of “people, planet and profit.”

His avocation was writing, including two books, one entitled Not by Bread Alone, and the other Passion Before Prudence: Commitment is the Mother of Meaning, as well as secular and sacred music and lyrics, including the score for a musical entitled “Star of Nantucket.”

Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SFTS, Dr. Jana Childers reflected, “Dick Gray was the kind of human being who gives education a good name. Dapper and personable, creative and far-thinking, he devoted his charm and talents to personalizing education’s institutions. His warmth will live on in the memories of those who knew him for a long, long time.”

Predeceased by his beloved wife of 70 years, Catherine Hammond Gray, he is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

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