Bob Gray -- Remembering a Childhood Hero

Bob Gray -- far right -- on a Cornwall-Gray picnic
When you are a child you probably have a hero or two.  These are the people whom you want to emulate in life.  It might be a parent or an older sibling, or maybe a neighbor.  In my case, as a child living in Mt. Shasta, California my hero was Mr. Gray.  My father was a rather detached parent, and into that role in many ways stepped my neighbor.  

The Gray family became my family too.  There were four children.  Doug was the oldest and already nearing high school.  Mary was younger, but old enough to serve as a baby sitter.  David was just a couple of years older and Don was my age -- and my first best friend.  We moved to Klamath Falls when I was nine, but during that six year period living in Mt. Shasta, we were like family.

4th of July "float" -- Bob Gray Truck
Bob Gray was a kind, gentle father to his own children and he reached out to me as well.  What gave excitement to the story, however was Bob's job.  He was a Fire Control Officer with the US Forest Service.  With lots of National Forest land in the area, the Forest Service was a major employer.  All the personnel had their green and white trucks parked in front of their houses.  When a fire occurred, perhaps up on the mountain, the trucks would all head off to the fire.  Because the Forest Service office was just a block from our elementary school, Don and I often road to school in that very same truck.  So, it's no wonder that at that moment in time I wasn't thinking about becoming a professor or a pastor.  No, I wanted to be like my hero Bob Gray, Fire Control Officer.

Bob died the other day at the age of 92.  It's been a few years since we've seen Bob and Betty at their McCloud log cabin, which Bob built after retirement, but Bob remains a hero to this day.  It is good to have heroes -- like a neighbor who is a Fire Control Officer -- heroes who are not only in the imagination or on the big screen, but in one's life.  And yes, Bob and Betty are people of deep faith!

Godspeed, good and faithful servant!  And my thoughts and prayers to Betty and all the extended Gray family -- who are part of my family as well.  


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