December 7, 1925 – January 4, 2020
Kathleen Marie Cook Gray, long-time resident and active member of the Reno community, passed peacefully away on January 4th with members of her family at her side.
Kathy was born December 7, 1925 in Kearney, Nebraska, to Allen and Marguerite Cook. Raised in Nebraska and Southern California, she eventually made her home in Reno in 1957.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Worlin Gray, and is survived by her 5 children: Leslie Gray Manning (Scott), James Gray (Charissa), Allen Gray (Deanne), David Gray (Venetia), Doug Gray (Laura), and her step-son Richard Gray (Katherine), as well as 19 grandchildren and “bonus” grandchildren.
Kathy was a graduate of the University of Redlands and continued her education at the University of Southern California where she earned her RN. She loved flying and began her career with Pan American World Airways as a stewardess in 1948, where she met and married Worlin Gray, a Pan American pilot. She “retired” from Pan American to raise her family but managed to balance this with her work as a nurse, initially with the Reno Pediatric Clinic, then with the Washoe County School District. She went on to obtain a private pilot’s license and joined the Ninety Nines, an organization for women pilots, volunteering her time for club activities. She was an active member in the Reno chapter of World Wings International (the philanthropic organization of retired Pan American flight attendants) and Folded Wings (an organization of retired flight attendants in general). She was also active in AAUW (American Association of University Women), PEO International (a philanthropic organization promoting the advancement of women), and the USC Alumni Association. For many years, Kathy annually volunteered and staffed the information and registration booths at the annual Reno Air Races with both the Ninety Nines and her World Wings International chapter members.
Kathy’s daughter Leslie was also a Pan Am flight attendant. Her son Jim, a naval aviator, was the guest speaker on the Midway at the 2018 World Wings convention in San Diego. Kathy flew the last fight out of China on Pan Am. Some thirty years later, Leslie flew the first Pan Am flight back into China. You can see Kathy interviewed, with Leslie by her side, by CBS Sunday Morning at the Savannah convention.
Click here to view the video.
Those who knew Kathy quickly learned that she was a true sports nut (and a fierce competitor). For many years she was a member of the Reno Tennis Club and competed in numerous club round-robin tournaments. Later she joined the Washoe County Women’s Golf league and the Plumas Pines Women’s Golf League, participating in numerous tournaments up until her 90th birthday. When she couldn’t play golf anymore, you could find her at the High Sierra Lanes, competing in the women’s bowling league.
A memorial service will be held in celebration of Kathy’s life on Friday, January 24th, 1:00 pm at Mountain View Mortuary, 435 Stoker Avenue, Reno NV. The service and reception will be “Luau” themed, in honor of Kathy’s love of the South Seas. After the service, a reception will follow (location to be determined). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made in Kathy’s name to the Pan American Historical Foundation at www.PanAm.org .
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