James Gray of Penn's library staff

James W. Gray
James W. Gray
Posted: September 07, 2012

James W. Gray, 70, of East Oak Lane, a University of Pennsylvania librarian assistant for 40 years, died Friday, Aug. 31, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania of cardiac arrest after spinal surgery.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Gray graduated from Edison High School in 1960. He began his career at Penn the next year, at the Biddle Law Library.

Drafted into the Army in 1964, he served for two years as a stateside medic.

Mr. Gray then returned to Penn, where he spent most of his career at the Annenberg School for Communication.

For several years from 1975, his daughter Rashida said, he was a part-time student at Temple University, taking classes in history and education, mostly at night.

Mr. Gray's "passion for knowledge has created a lasting legacy" among his three children, who in total have earned three bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, and a medical degree, his daughter said.

Mr. Gray was also a shop steward and treasurer for AFSCME Local 590, which represented Penn library staff, among others, his daughter said.

He was a member of the campus African American Association.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Gray is survived by his mother, Eloise; a son, Malik; another daughter, Aisha; a brother; two sisters; two grandchildren; and his former wife, Patricia Hill.

A viewing was set from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Center of Peace Center for Spiritual Living, Penrose Avenue and Beech Street, Elkins Park, before an 11 a.m. funeral service there.


Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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