She was born June 28, 1920, in Lamont, MO, the youngest of three beautiful and treasured daughters born to Lawrence Wade and Viola (Kemp) Wade. The Wade sisters grew up in Lamont, where Helen graduated from Lamont High School in 1938. Following high school, she attended Missouri State Teachers College in Warrensburg, Missouri. Upon her college graduation, she returned home to Lamont where she taught elementary school. As World War II began, she moved to St. Louis to work for the Army Corps of Engineers. It was there that she met her future husband, Dr. Troy Ancel Gray. The couple met as they were walking to church on Easter Sunday 1945, and they were married at that church in St. Louis on February 28, 1946, a union that spanned 60 years. The couple moved to Newport, Arkansas and it was there that they made their home, raised their family, and became a vital part of the community. Helen remained in her beloved home at Newport until she moved to Fayetteville in 2011 to be closer to her family. She came to love her Fayetteville home where she, true to form, made many friends and genuinely enjoyed the company of her family.
Helen was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church at Newport. She enjoyed singing in the choir for over 50 years, being a member of the United Methodist Women, and the day circle meetings of the ladies of the church. Helen was also devoted to her community, she was a 50 year member and past president of P.E.O., Chapter R., and a longtime member of the Newport Garden Club.
Helen’s greatest love in life was her family. As a young mother, she was active in the lives of her sons, volunteering her time as a room mother at school and a den mother for the Cub Scouts. Helen Gray was the epitome of a loving and tolerant mother when it came to supporting the varied interests and past times of her sons, Andy and David. She supported their academic, athletic, scouting and musical activities, while lovingly tolerating go-carts, homemade sleds, and a multitude of pets, not only the usual cats and dogs, but also, the not so usual, snakes, lizards, turtles, fish, parakeets, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rabbits and chickens (to name a few). Her greatest joy and sense of accomplishment came from watching her sons develop into successful men, devoted husbands, fathers, and grandfathers. Along with being a nurturing mother, she was a doting, attentive, and loving grandmother and great-grandmother. Her family, especially her grandchildren will forever remember her as a wicked domino player during the holidays. Helen took seriously the vow she took in February of 1946, and was a loving wife, supportive partner, companion in fun, and friend to her husband of 60 years, Troy Ancel Gray. She supported him in his dental practice for over 40 years. Helen sacrificed along with many other military wives during the Korean conflict, staying home and raising her son Andy, alone while her husband served for 2 years overseas. She and Troy traveled, played countless games of golf, were tireless fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The couple held the same seats at both War Memorial Stadium and Razorback Stadium for over 50 years. Although she no longer was able to attend Razorback games in person, she faithfully followed her beloved Razorbacks to the end. She watched and cheered her last Razorback game this past Saturday. Many interests made up Helen’s life, she enjoyed many hours golfing, playing bridge with friends, bird watching, gardening, cooking, and trout fishing with her family. Helen was also an accomplished writer, she faithfully journaled and wrote stories about her life, along with writing poetry.
Page 2 of 2 - Helen Wade Gray, overwhelmingly described by friends and family as “sweet,” will be remembered, by all who knew her, as a true southern lady. She displayed class, style, beauty, and charm in every aspect of her life. She dearly loved the town where she and Troy made their home nearly 67 years ago, especially her church, and time spent at the Newport Country Club. Those who will miss her most are those she loved most, her family, many friends, and wonderful neighbors.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Dr. Troy Ancel Gray; her son, Troy Anderson “Andy” Gray; and her two sisters, Margaret Wade McFarland and Laura (Larry) Wade Bryant.
Helen is survived by her son, Dr. David Gray and wife Christina (Wolf) Gray of Springdale, Arkansas; daughter-in-law, Linda (Taylor) Gray Ward of Eureka Springs, Arkansas; four grandchildren, Robin Gray Urgelles and husband Raul of Miami, Florida, Amy Gray Robitschek and husband Jon of Anchorage, Alaska, Travis Allen Gray and wife Emma of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Kelsey Helen Gray of Denver, Colorado; five great-grandchildren, Taylor and Anderson Urgelles, Greyson and Dylan Robitschek
and Clarabelle Gray. She also leaves behind several nieces and nephews, as well as special caregivers that were by her side for years, Shirley Hendrix and Polly McAdams.
Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 3rd and Laurel Street, Newport, Arkansas 72112.
Friends visited at the funeral home Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m.
Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. Thursday at the First United Methodist Church of Newport, with Rev. Brad Elrod officiating and memories being shared by Ms. Thelma Welch, Mrs. Sandra Pankey, and Mr. Marvin Thaxton. Interment will follow at Oaklawn Cemetery in Batesville.
To sign the guestbook, light a memorial candle, or leave a condolence, please visit our website at www.jacksonsfh.com
Arrangements by Jackson’s Newport Funeral Home.