Helen M. Gray


(Feb. 9, 2006)

Helen Marie (Lamond) Gray of Powell died of a heart attack Wednesday, Feb. 9 at the Beehive Homes of Powell at approximately 5 a.m. She was 97.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Presbyterian Church in Powell, with Rev. David Hunter officiating.

She was born at home July 8, 1908, in Union Township, Mahaska County, Iowa, to Fred Gordon Lamond and Monta Verda (Williams) Lamond. Soon afterwards, her parents moved to a farm just over the county line in Poweshiek County, where she and her younger sister, Irene (Lamond) Morgan, were raised. Helen delighted in telling stories about her early years there among doting grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great aunts that she adored. She graduated from high school in 1926 at New Sharon, Iowa, and attended William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, from 1926-1930 graduating with a BA in English, with a minor in History and French. Helen continued her education at William Penn the following year and graduated with a BS degree in Business in 1931, and enrolled at the University of Colorado, Boulder, taking additional business courses in summer of 1932.

Following college, Helen taught business for three years at the high school in Williamson, Iowa. Due to the fact that a married woman was not allowed to teach school in those days, she married John Stanley Gray of Oskaloosa, Iowa, in a secret civil ceremony on Oct. 29, 1932, at Lancaster, Mo. She and John lived apart during her teaching career. On May 19, 1934, Helen and John were again united in marriage, this time in front of family and friends, at St. John’s Methodist Church, in Davenport, Iowa.  After their public marriage, John and Helen proceeded to purchase a farm from Helen’s parents in Mahaska County, several miles south of Oskaloosa. Living on the farm was difficult and demanding without having plumbing or electricity for several years. During this time, Helen and John had one child. John Stanley Gray, Jr., was born on October 28, 1936.

When John Gray, Sr., became involved in politics at the local level and then was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in the 1950s, Helen decided to become involved as well. She began working in the State Law Library of the State House in Des Moines in 1955. From 1957-1960, Helen served as clerk for her husband in the Iowa House of Representatives and the following two years served as clerk for John when he became a State Senator in 1961. After John died on March 5, 1962, Helen worked at William Penn College in the Personnel and Placement Office (1962-1973) and also served as Dean of Women from 1963-1972.

When Helen’s son moved his family to Delta, Colo., in 1970, Helen decided to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, to be near her three beloved granddaughters, Kimberly, Tanya, and Loni. They were the light of her life. And, she was the “perfect grandmother.”  Each granddaughter’s life was greatly influenced by Helen’s steadfast love and obvious joy and delight in each granddaughter’s individuality. Helen worked for a short time in an exclusive gift shop in downtown Grand Junction and totally enjoyed working with the public.

In 1975, Helen and her son’s family moved to Powell. She made many wonderful friends in the community and the town of Powell became Helen’s true home. She had a variety of interests and hobbies, including reading, traveling, knitting, hiking, gardening, and cooking, and she especially loved getting together for lunches and card parties with friends. For many years, Helen volunteered several hours each week working in the Powell Hospital Auxiliary’s Gift Shop and, during the cooler months, faithfully used the walking path at the Powell Hospital.

Throughout her lifetime, Helen belonged to many community organizations: Association of University Women, Oskaloosa Women’s Club, P.E.O. (chapters in Oskaloosa, IA, Grand Junction, CO, Powell, WY), Midwest College Placement Association, National Association of Women Deans and Counselors, William Penn Auxiliary, Eastern Star, Farm Bureau, Methodist Church of Oskaloosa, United Nations, Powell Hospital Auxiliary, and the Presbyterian Church.

She loved life and she loved people. She constantly shared gentle acts of kindness to personal friends, many acquaintances in the community, and even strangers. She always found it easy to say a kind word to everyone she met and she possessed a true talent for seeing the best attributes about life itself.

Survivors include daughter-in-law, Sherri L. Gray of Powell; granddaughters Kimberly Dawn (Gray) Miller and husband Jay Miller of Fort Collins, Colo., Tanya Valerie (Gray) Miller and husband Ronald Miller of La Porte, Colo., and Loni Yvette Gray and husband Major Ronald Cramer, USAF, San Antonio, Texas; grandchildren Bryce Grayvictor Miller and Austin Jay Miller of Fort Collins, and Ryan Stanley Miller and Tess Elizabeth Miller of La Porte.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents Fred and Verda Lamond, sister Irene Morgan, husband John Stanley Gray, Sr., and son John Stanley Gray, Jr.

Cremation has taken place and Helen’s family will have her ashes placed beside her husband’s at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Oskaloosa, IA.

For those who wish, family members ask memorials to be given to either the Presbyterian Church of Powell, the educational fund of PEO--Chapter P, or the Powell Hospital Auxiliary.

Memorial arrangements are being handled by Thompson Funeral Home of Powell.