Pioneer of General Grierson Days passes away

By Ryne Turke on June 8, 2016 at 3:32pm

Ron Gray, long-time chairman of the Jacksonville Civil War re-enactment, died on Tuesday at the age of 79.

Grierson Days started as a way to celebrate and remember General Benjamin Grierson, a Jacksonville native who led an important raid for the Union during the Civil War.

Gray was a regular promoter of the event on WLDS’ “What’s On Your Mind?” program.

During the 20th Anniversary of General Grierson Days, Gray was presented the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitor Bureau’s inaugural Friend of Jacksonville Award.

Executive Director Brittany Henry’s involvement with Gray began in 2006, when Henry interned with the Jacksonville Visitor’s Bureau.

From the second I met Ron I said he was a treasure to the Jacksonville community. He has been dedicated to the community in many ways. Although he was always a driving force behind General Grierson Days, many in our community know he did more than just General Grierson Days,” says Henry.

Gray retired from the CVB board in 2013.

Multiple factors, including money, location and volunteers led to the conclusion of Grierson Days in 2015.

Gray’s passion for Jacksonville also included assisting in the establishment of the city’s parks foundation in 2010. Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says one of the main projects under Gray’s watch was the completion of the gazebo in Community Park.

Ezard added that Gray had “a lot of ideas” and “things he wanted to see done in the city.”

In a meeting last week, Gray and Ezard discussed making some improvements to the Grierson grave site at Jacksonville’s East Cemetery. Ezard felt bringing this proposal to City Council in the near future would be a fitting way to honor Gray’s countless volunteer hours for Jacksonville.

WJVO/WJIL’s Sarah Hautala confirmed that Gray was the station’s general manager from 1972-1988 and previously worked at WMAY in Springfield.

Funeral arrangements are pending at the Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville.

Correction to this story: Gray died on Tuesday, not Wednesday.