It is with great sadness that the family of Dr. Robert Ernest Gray announce that he peacefully
passed away at home on June 20, 2021. He was surrounded by his family. Bob was born on
January 30, 1933, in Newport News, Virginia, to Gus Tavis Gray and Mary Annie Guthrie Gray,
who predeceased him. He was also preceded in death by brothers; Gus Thomas Gray, James
E. Gray, Wilton Leslie Gray, and sister; Lois Ann Gray Grubbs. He married his highschool
sweetheart, Ruth Eulene Wilson on August 21, 1954, in Newport News, Virginia.
Bob was called to preach the gospel at the early age of 17. After graduating from Warwick High
School in Newport News, Virginia, he prepared for the ministry by attending Moody Bible
Institute in Chicago, Illinois, Mars Hill Junior College in Mars Hill, North Carolina, and graduated
from East Tennessee State College in Johnson City, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts in
religion and psychology. After pastoring his first church, Clear Branch Baptist Church in Erwin,
Tennessee, Bob felt a need for further education. He received a Master of Divinity from
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and a Doctor of
Ministry from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.
Bob served churches in Tennessee (Clear Branch Baptist Church in Erwin) and in North
Carolina (Fairview Baptist Church in Hillsborough, Macedonia Baptist Church in Liberty, Grace
Baptist Church in Durham, and Edenton Baptist Church in Edenton). He retired from full-time
ministry while at Temple Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia. After retiring, Bob served as
an Interim Pastor in numerous churches in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Bob lived his life loving God, loving his family, and loving others. With each church
congregation, his approach to ministry was about renewal - to stabilize and to start growth. His
personable approach brought people together. His preaching was faithful to scripture, and of
primary importance was discipleship, missions, and outreach. He had special gifts in counseling
and mentoring. Bob was known as pastor, teacher, leader, counselor, administrator, and friend.
While his first love was preaching, he enjoyed traveling to all 50 states and many international
destinations. Some of his favorite trips were with family. His extensive library included books of
all kinds, but for fun he enjoyed reading western novels. Other pastimes were creating stained
glass projects, writing, reading poetry, listening to music (of all genres), DIY projects (from long
lists prepared by his wife), but most of all, he loved spending time with his family.
A resident of Weaverville, North Carolina since 2000, Bob is survived by his loving wife of
almost 67 years, Ruth Eulene Wilson Gray of Weaverville, North Carolina; daughter Karen
Elizabeth Gray (Clark) Sorrells; sons Robert Ernest (Karen) Gray, Jr., and Darrell Eugene (Lisa)
Gray; and nine grandchildren; Lillie Elizabeth Sorrells, Robert Ernest (Allison) Gray, III, Haley
Nicole Gray (Brett) Stonecipher, Justin David (Abigail) Gray, Hannah Katherine Sorrells
(Garrett) Tyler, Zachary Tavis Gray, Jacob Clark Sorrells, Katherine Mackenzie Gray, and Jared
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Friday, June 25, at 7:00 p.m. at First Baptist
Church, 5 Oak Street, Asheville, North Carolina. Receiving of Friends will take place prior to the
service at 6:00 p.m. Both events will take place in the First Baptist Church of Asheville
Memorial donations in memory of Bob may be made to the Scholarship Fund of Academy for
the Arts (AFTA), https://academyforthearts.org/ or Kids Across America (KAA), https://www.kaakamps.org/. Both organizations provide special opportunities
and support for children and youth in need.
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