When Barbara Young thinks about her friend William Gray, she remembers their long conversations about issues facing the Ada City Council.
Young was a member of the council from 1993 until 1997 and again from 2002 until 2010. She worked alongside Gray, who sat on the council from 1993 until 2002, and both served two terms as mayor.
Gray was a close friend who was equally comfortable discussing city issues or trading stories, Young said.
“We could talk and laugh just hours on end about issues that were going on in the city as well as things that were going on in our families,” she said. “That’s what I remember most about him — his dedication to the city and also his sense of humor, his laughter.”
Young said she learned a lot about Ada’s black community from Gray, who was Ada’s first black fire chief and councilman. She said she focused on her friend’s character, not the color of his skin.
“Bill was just such a good friend and good person that none of that ever made a difference to me, one way or another,” she said. “He was just somebody that was genuine. I felt if I told Bill something in confidence, I knew that it would stay that way.
“And he trusted me that same way.”
Gray’s relatives and friends shared their memories of Gray on Friday, four days after he died following surgery for prostate cancer. He was 67.
Serving his community
Gray was born June 12, 1946, in Ada to Edgar and Naomi (Triplett) Gray. He attended Napier School and graduated from Byng High School in 1964.
After graduation, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. He later joined the National Guard, retiring with the rank of master sergeant in 2003.
Gray originally joined the National Guard’s infantry brigade but later transferred to the 1120th Maintenance Company, where he served with his son LaDon Carrington. The two men spent time together during the unit’s annual training sessions, summer camps and drills.