by Matt Kelly
Gray gets gift of words
By Matt Kelly
Grays education started in the hospital dining room. There,
twice a week for a year, he would meet with a tutor to work on
he started working at the Medical Centers dietary department
36 years ago, reading was not a necessity. He had learned long
ago how to cook by sight and taste. But then came the opportunity
to become a driver, delivering patients to and from appointments,
and thats when Gray knew his lack of literacy set him apart.
was getting me, everybody else was sitting around reading newspapers,
reading magazines and all different kinds of books I couldnt
read, Gray said. All I could do was look at the pictures.
now 65, had but a year and a half of formal education. A severe
ear infection, requiring surgery, kept him out of school for several
years, and when he was finally able to return, the principal would
not take him back.
he followed in his fathers footsteps, working on a farm
in Nelson County. After the farm failed, Gray headed for Charlottesville,
where he was hired at the Medical Center. His boss knew he was
illiterate, and it was she who started him on the road to education.
and his wife, Ella, raised two boys, both of whom are in college.
has come a long way since those early days in the hospital dining
room. Hes a member of a weekly book group, and serves on
the board of Literacy Volunteers, one of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Campaigns many charities. He is helping others do what he
did. All I was trying to do was get it, Gray said.
I never thought about how hard it was.