• Rita J. Gray
    October 05,2013

    Rita J. Gray

    NORTHFIELD — Rita J. Gray, 94, died Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, at her home in Bradenton, Fla.

    She was born in Berlin, Vt., June 16, 1919, the daughter of James and Mary (Stewart) Towne.

    After graduating high school, Rita was awarded an academic scholarship to attend Trinity College in Burlington, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and science.

    She married Donald Gray Aug. 2, 1948. Their roots were in New England, but most of their married lives were spent in New York, having lived in Plattsburgh, Moores, Perrys Mills, Buffalo, and finally settling their family in Staten Island. In retirement, they enjoyed wintering together in Florida for over 17 years. Her husband of almost 55 years predeceased her on June 3, 2003.

    Mrs. Gray had been closely connected to nature all of her life. She grew up on a 50-acre family farm, she drove the tractor, planted, tended crops, fed and cared for livestock. She learned at an early age how to live “green,” way before it was fashionable to do so, as well as how to be a good steward of our planet.

    Rita had worked many jobs throughout her life. To help pay for her education, she sold bristle brushes, elder care, waitress and housekeeper. After graduating from college, she was a research assistant for Hoopers Radio Research, a lab assistant at Dartmouth eye clinic, in banking at Shawmut Securities, and was a medical transcriptionist for Dr. Pedley, of Northfield. She enjoyed being by the water and wanted a job that would allow her to have summers off, and that was the driving force that began a teaching career. She secured a teaching job in Moores, N.Y., where she met the man of her life, Donald. Years later she began a career in nuclear medicine at Staten Island Hospital, and continued working in that capacity until her retirement.

    She enjoyed camping, tending her gardens at 15 Crescent and 86 Central St., horseback riding, skiing, music and dancing.

    She was a member of St. John The Evangelist Church in Northfield, St. Peter’s Church in Staten Island, N.Y., and St. Joseph’s Church in Bradenton, Fla.

    Rita was passionate about music, and it was a constant in her life. She was a piano accompanist in college, played the organ at parish churches, and also taught piano for a short while. She was a member of Staten Island Richmond Choral for 40 years, and The Saint Cecilia for about 15 years. She was accomplished on the piano, organ, spinet, recorder as well as the viola d’gamba. The household was always full of musical friends and inspiration. Music gave her a connection wherever she went. For the 17 years they traveled to Florida to winter, she was part of an early music group for recorder and viola d’gamba sessions. Her love of music was a great way to become involved in her retirement home at The Woodlands Village. Soon after arrival she began playing for afternoon sing-alongs in the main lounge, and that expanded to include musical accompaniment at the chapel services for various denominations on Sundays.

    Survivors include her four children, Donita Aruny, of Guilford, Conn., Martin Gray, of Staten Island, N.Y., Mary Gary, of New York City, and Gary Gray, of Red Bank, N.J.; and nine grandchildren: Jonathan, Amanda, Andrew and Evan Aruny, Ian and Fiona Gray, and Megan, Carissa and Matthew Gray. She is also survived by son-in-law Dr. John Aruny, daughters-in-law Marilyn and Wendy Gray, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and -nephews, many of whom reside in Vermont.

    She is predeceased by five siblings, Monsignor Charles Towne, Sister Mary Cephas, Norbert Towne, John Towne and Dora Towne.

    Calling hours will be conducted Saturday, Oct. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Kingston Funeral Home, Slate Avenue, Northfield, Vt. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Saturday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m. at St. John The Evangelist Church on Vine Street in Northfield, followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Tidewell Hospice and Palliative Care, Bradenton, Fla. Kingston Funeral Home in Northfield is handling the arrangements.

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