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Obituary: Norman Wilbur Gray, Columbus

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Gray, Norman Wilbur, age 90, a resident of Columbus since 1968, passed away at home on January 21 after battling Parkinson's Disease for several years. Norman was born on April 15, 1922, in Shelbyville, Indiana, to Harry J. and Marcia M. Gray.

He is survived by his wife, Marie Elizabeth Gray of Columbus, and children, Robert Norman Gray of Tijeras, New Mexico (wife, Susan), Cynthia Marie Bryan of Warsaw, Indiana (husband, Joe), and Thomas Michael Gray of Warsaw, Indiana, as well as grandchildren, Scott Bryan of Matthews, North Carolina (wife Laura), Kelly Bryan of Las Vegas, Nevada, Amanda Coffman of Albuquerque, New Mexico (husband Aaron) and Abigail Campbell of Albuquerque, New Mexico (husband Wesley).

We loved it when he regaled us with stories of his childhood growing up during the Depression in Shelbyville; stories of 10-cent hamburgers and 15-cent movies; of various pranks he played: his dad kept bees and he once tied a thread around a live bee and led it around flying on the end of a leash to scare the neighborhood kids with. He scavenged abandoned parts and built tube radios from scratch. He aspired to be an inventor like Thomas Edison. As a young man he was an avid amateur photographer, worked at a photo processing company where they made wall-size enlargements, and was president of the camera club in high school.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Shelbyville High School in 1940 and then attended Franklin College for one year, studying chemistry before being drafted into military service during World War II. He served in the Army Air Force as a radio operator and trainer. After being discharged from the military, he attended Purdue University and obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering. He went to work for Public Service Co. of Indiana (now Duke Energy) and worked as a design engineer there for his entire career until he retired in 1987.

He married Marie in 1951, moved to Plainfield, Indiana, to work at their corporate headquarters, and raised his young family there until moving to Columbus in 1968. He was recognized in his profession for innovative electric transmission line designs and was responsible for designing many of the high-voltage transmission lines that cross southern Indiana. He was a man of many talents with a brilliant mind, tremendous work ethic and passion for quality workmanship.

He had a darkroom at home for many years. He was skilled in electronics and repaired televisions as a hobby during the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a skilled, self-taught musician, artist, mechanic, plumber, carpenter and woodworker. There was nothing he couldn't fix or build. In all of these fields he was an inspiration to his co-workers, family and friends who marveled at the quality of workmanship he produced.

In retirement, he loved reading and working crossword puzzles, playing cards with his wife and friends, and spending time with his family. He enjoyed traveling with his wife on numerous trips to New Mexico and around the country as well as a memorable trip to Hawaii and cruises to Alaska and Scandinavia organized through the Columbus Senior Center where he also was a member of the Investment Club. Most of all, he was dedicated to his family and made sure that we were always well taken care of. We will miss him dearly and forever hold him close in our hearts.

The funeral will be conducted on Friday, January 25, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. at  Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home in Columbus with Rev. Steve Allman officiating. Entombment will follow at Maple Hill Mausoleum in Plainfield, Indiana. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home and from 12:00 p.m. until service time Friday.

You may light a virtual candle and send a message to the family via the Internet.


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