Former Hastings resident Donald CJ "Don" Gray Jr., 77, passed away Sunday, July 11, 2021, at his home in Lincoln surrounded by his wife of fifty-six years Barbara, his daughter Katie and her family, and his son Justin. His son Matt returned upon his passing after a recent visit.
Burial Office is at 1 p.m. Friday, July 16, at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Hastings with The Very Reverend Katie Hargis officiating. Burial with military rites by Hastings Military Honor Guard will be at Parkview Cemetery in Hastings. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Memorials gifts may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Livingston Butler Volland Funeral Home & Cremation Center is serving the family.
Don was born in Glendale, CA on December 25, 1943, to Donald CJ Gray, Sr., and Mary Jane (Einsel) Gray. Despite his geographic birthplace, Don was a son of Hastings through and through. Upon graduation from Hastings High School in 1961, he attended the University of Nebraska and Hastings College. In 1963 he enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a submariner on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600) in the North Atlantic. Don married Hastings native and high school sweetheart Barbara Yost on October 30, 1964. He was modest about his service but felt deeply about his undersea brotherhood. He went on to serve as a nuclear propulsion instructor until his honorable discharge in 1974.
Don worked in the nuclear power industry for nearly two decades and then in software development, "dragging the family along", seven states in all. His hobbies and pursuits were numerous... that expression "planes, trains and automobiles" isn’t too far off in describing his interests.
After these adventures, the homeland beckoned. Don and Bobbie returned to Nebraska in 1994 to be closer to family, settling in Lincoln. Don led numerous initiatives during his tenure at the Public Service Commission of Nebraska. Through his father, Don had a strong foundation in the Masonic tradition in Nebraska and eventually earned the 34th Degree, maintaining loyal memberships in several lodges but moreover countless friendships.
Among many philanthropic activities, Don was active with the Lincoln chapter of Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While his kids cringed at his "dude" bandanas they were particularly proud of both his grit as a cyclist and his leadership as a coach.
Don carried on his family's tradition of service to the Episcopal Church at St. Mark's On the Campus in Lincoln as a vestry member. His burial service at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Hastings is truly a homecoming.
Don was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Kenneth D. Gray.
Survivors include his wife Barbara Gray of Lincoln; son Matthew Gray (William Walsh) of Manzanita, OR; daughter Katherine Gray Asplund (Martin Asplund) of Morgan Hill, CA; son Justin Gray of Lincoln; granddaughters Gretchen Asplund and Gillian Asplund of Morgan Hill, CA; aunt Jean Miller of Hiawassee, GA; and numerous cousins.