Robert Hanes Gray, Jr. 83, of Lynchburg, Virginia passed away from a long illness on October 18, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. He was the son of the late Robert Hanes Gray, Sr. and Lois Dinger Gray (Mimi), and the husband of Kate Gray for 54 years.
Rob was born on August 7,1938 in Lexington, VA. He attended The Lawrenceville School in Princeton New Jersey. At 18, Rob served his country as Military Police supporting intelligence operations in radio communications. In September 1962, he was deployed in support of the Federal protection program for James Meredith as the first black student admitted to University of Mississippi. This experience was one that largely influenced his life’s work to promote social justice and protect the vulnerable.
On the GI Bill, Rob was later awarded a BA in Philosophy at Yale University and followed his father into the legal profession earning a J.D. from Washington and Lee University. As an attorney, Rob served throughout Central Virginia, primarily in Appomattox, where he had a law practice for over 30 years. He spent many hours on pro-bono work for the underrepresented and was committed to helping vulnerable communities receive fair representation, often by serving as interpreter for Spanish-speaking defendants and their families. As a substitute circuit judge serving Southeast and Central Virginia, Rob was known by his colleagues for his jurisprudence and fairness and was remembered by many who appeared before him for his belief in the restorative benefits of giving second chances. Rob was a member of the Virginia State Bar Association for more than 50 years.
After relocating to Lynchburg in 1993, Rob became an active volunteer in community theatre and the performing arts scene. His passion for the stage earned him leading roles in many plays, most notably those of Death of a Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Seagull. He and his wife Kate have been devoted supporters of local performing arts and cultural community organizations, especially those of the Academy Center of the Arts, Opera on the James, and the Dante Alighieri Society.
Rob also volunteered for many local humanitarian, medical, and educational organizations including Meals on Wheels, Lynchburg General Hospital, Lynchburg College and Centra. He served as board member for Johnson Health Center and Riverviews Artspace. Rob enjoyed being both student and teacher throughout in his life with an insatiable curiosity about culture and languages and a strong drive to mentor lawyers new to the profession. He loved challenging medical students at the Lynchburg College School of PA Medicine as a Spanish-speaking patient in medical simulations and serving alongside his dear friend, Kern Lunsford as a Spanish interpreter for Centra.
Robert belonged to Holy Cross Catholic Church in Lynchburg and enjoyed his grandchildren, raising standard poodles, spoken languages, and brisk walks. He studied challenging languages such as Farsi and rode racing bikes. As a father, Rob brought light, hope, and humor to the toughest of situations and was tremendous source of comfort, peace, inspiration and encouragement for his children, Robert III and Eliza. He also had ongoing conversations with them about existentialism, law, politics and religion. While a teenager in the Bahamas, young Robert was a hospital aid, had interest in becoming a doctor, and played maracas in a local band.
In addition to his wife Kate, Rob is lovingly remembered by his children, son Robert, III and daughter Eliza; daughter-in law Carolyn Gray; grandchildren Laura, Anna, and Rebecca; sister Celie Rosenau; nephews William, John, and Edward Rosenau; dear friends Kern Lunsford, Alex Bell, Naomi Amos, Laura Dupuy; Dessi Dupuy his goddaughter.
Robert is predeceased by his father Robert Hanes Gray Sr., his mother Lois Dinger Gray and his brother-in-law David Rosenau.
A funeral service will be held on October 25, 2021 at 2:00pm at Holy Cross Catholic Church located at 710 Clay Street Lynchburg, VA 24504. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels of Greater Lynchburg, Johnson Health Center, and Centra Volunteer Services at LGH.
Tharp Funeral Home, Lynchburg is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit www.tharpfuneralhome.com