Dennis Michael Gray of Woodstock, our cherished husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and dear friend, sadly passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Feb. 25, 2023, at the age of 81, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dennis was born in Chicago on Feb. 18, 1942, to Charles P. and Lois (Johnson) Gray. The family moved to Crystal Lake in 1952. He was a graduate of Crystal Lake Central High School and Marquette University. While still at Marquette, Dennis started writing copy for broadcast commercials, and thus began a more than 30-year career producing television commercials. It was a career that took him all over the country and beyond.
In 1969 he married Priscilla (Avery) Gray, and together they enjoyed several moves, including to Baltimore and Boston, where they raised their family. In 2001 they returned home to McHenry County, where Dennis spent 12 years working in Woodstock at Other World Computing in inside sales until retiring in 2014.
As a little boy he loved cars, and at a tender young age he could name every make, model, and year on the road. He never lost his love for cars, particularly models from the ’50s and ’60s. At the age of 2 he began singing with his mother, songs such as “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones” and “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.” The family would sing many old songs during car trips, and Dennis discovered his passion for creating harmonies, a passion which lasted his entire life. He found folk music in high school, and was the tenor and a guitarist in a trio which won many contests in the Chicagoland area. At Marquette he became part of another small folk group which had a popular half-hour hootenanny TV show in Milwaukee on Saturday nights. The high harmonies carried over into church music when he moved to Baltimore in the mid 1970s, and then to Boston for 20 years. Once he and Priscilla were back in Illinois, he joined the ensemble at St. Mary’s in Woodstock, where he also cantored until recently, and was a member of the contemporary ensemble and a cantor at St. Thomas in Crystal Lake until a month before his death. Fortunately, the church music did not die with him, as he had passed on his beautiful gift to daughter, Katherine, a principal cantor at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, and further to two of his granddaughters, who now sing and cantor in the St. Thomas ensemble. The gift lives on, but he will be greatly missed.
Dennis is survived by his wife; daughters Stacey, Gillian (Jack) Broderick, and Katherine (Stephen) Noon; son Morgan; grandchildren Charlotte Broderick, Madeleine, Sabrina, and Stephen Alexander Noon; sister Merle Buhrow; brother-in-law Charles Avery; nephews and a niece; and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother-in-law John Buhrow; and sister-in-law Jane Avery.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, March 2, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, 1211 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, with a funeral mass on Friday, March 3, 1 p..m., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 312 Lincoln Ave., in Woodstock.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Tunnel to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10306; or The Haitian Project, POB 6891, Providence, RI 02940.
For information call the funeral home at 815-338-1710 or see the website at slmcfh.com.