Bob and Louise Gray moved to Ashland in 1941 after he accepted a job offer from Ashland Oil and could marry the young girl he met at church in Louisville.
“We were finally able to get married since I had a job,” he said, explaining he had just graduated from Speed Engineering School in Louisville.
“I met her through a mutual friend when I visited a young people’s meeting at her church. A friend said he wanted me to meet her ... and it registered.”
“He was a nice, handsome young man. He was a polite and caring person and he’s never changed,” she added on the day of their 71st wedding anniversary.
With a grin, he remembered delivering newspapers along a route past her home. “It led to me getting fines for being late on my deliveries,” he said. “We would just stand there and talk and talk and talk,” she added.
On the day before their wedding, he was working on a boat and had engine parts spread out on the nearby riverbank. “My boss came by and said, ‘You’re not getting anything done. Go on and get married.’ I caught the train to Louisville and got there in time for the rehearsal,” he said, with his wife adding, “Just barely ... but he made it.”
Seventy-one years of marriage, including family life and professional obligations, weren’t always easy, although Gray said his wife did a great job with her share of the burdens. “I traveled a lot for Ashland, probably 70 percent of the time, so she had to raise the kids and pay the bills and keep the house up,” he said. “She handled it with a desire to do her very best ... and she always did.”
The Grays, who are both 94, raised two sons, Bob and John, and a daughter, Jane, and enjoy keeping up with a growing family, including a grandson and six granddaughters. They enjoy seeing the grandchildren, although he says they see them “not near enough. They are scattered across the country.” Bob married Pat Quinlin of Ashland and now lives in Lexington, he said, while Jane married Ken Kearns, and John, who works for Marathon, wed Patty Sargent.
The couple enjoyed travel together, with memorable destinations that included England, Hawaii, Greece and the Mediterranean. They have a time-share cabin in Tennessee, although they say travel isn’t a good option for them at 94, and they are thankful their children still take advantage of the getaway space.
“It doesn’t sound like a glamorous life,” she said, quickly adding her appreciation of the many rewards they have been blessed with, including strong family bonds. “I’m just glad that we’re able to keep going and help them. It’s a blessing for us. Our arms may hurt and our legs may hurt, but we can still get around.”
With considerable success at the art of wedded bliss, Gray said he and his wife have used a couple of simple rules to keep things going good.
“Our approach is, never go to bed mad and live one day at a time,” he said. “We’re pleased. We don’t know why God’s been so good to us,” she added.
Friend and daytime helper Jean Crites said she has tremendous admiration for Mr. and Mrs. Gray, and hopes they will someday write a book about their life and times together.
“This is a sweet little couple,” Crites said. “They hug and kiss every morning when they get up and they tell each other ‘I love you.’ I see this every day that I am here. She will say, ‘Good morning ... how’s the love of my life?’”
TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.
com or (606) 326-2651.