Donald James Gray

Donald Gray, surrounded by his family, was reunited with his wife in Heaven on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, 2019, at First Congregational Church, 327 N. Washington Street, Owosso with Pastor Deb Grazier officiating. The family will receive friends at Nelson-House Funeral Home on Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until the time of service at the church.

Donald was born March 2, 1930, in Buchanan, the son of James and Edna (Nash) Gray.

He graduated from Buchanan High School, earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Western Michigan University, and proudly served in the United States Army.

He married Mary Kools in Niles, Michigan, on Aug. 16, 1952; she predeceased him on Jan. 29, 2010.

Don and Mary moved to Owosso in 1962 and began Trojan life. He was an educator and mentor. As a varsity basketball coach, he won three district titles. The most recent was an Owosso Trojans championship in 1971. As a varsity football coach for four years in Owosso, he won back-to-back Big Nine Championships in 1966 and 1967. In 1993, as the AD, he earned the Alan W. Bush Service Award. This was given “in recognition of noteworthy support and the promise of continuing commitment and service to the MHSAA and interscholastic athletics.” Coach Gray was inducted into the Alumni Wall of Fame in the winter of 2009 and the Owosso Athletic Hall of Fame in January 2019. He appreciated each accolade, but is most remembered for the lives he touched and those he positively influenced along his journey.

Upon retirement, Don and Mary spent many memorable winters in Naples, Florida. He enjoyed U of M sports, playing golf, casino trips and family gatherings. As a grandfather, he continued to support his favorite Trojans as he was ever-present at his grandchildren’s school and sporting events.

To Don, Trojan Life was the Best Life.

Donald will be greatly missed by his surviving family; son, James (Alice) Gray; daughters, Jane (Byron) Sawer, Maureen (Chris) Cannon and Mary (Kirk) Rheaume; sister Betty Syson; seven grandchildren, Kristen (Cam), Mollie, Kayla, Christopher, Brennen, Jessica, Preston; two great-grandchildren, Kendall, Grayson; other loving family members and friends. He was predeceased by his wife, parents, two brothers and two sisters. Don leaves behind a legacy of integrity, respect, honesty and kindness to every family member and friend who had the privilege to know him.

The family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have given them support, compassion and love throughout the last few weeks. Coach lived a long and happy life and only succumbed to ill health at the very end. He was truly loved very much and will be missed immensely.

Memorial contributions are suggested to Owosso Sports Boosters, Brad Van Pelt Scholarship Fund, Memorial Healthcare Hospice or First Congregational Church.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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