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Traverse City Shipmate Dies, Remembered by Great Lakes Community

Richard Gray Lodge 23
Richard Gray Having Fun
Richard Gray

Traverse City local, Richard Gray, 35, died Monday from a tragic accident aboard his 1,000 – foot freighter ship the Walter J. McCarthy, off the shore of Gary, Indiana.

Many people across the Great Lakes state have reached out in support to his close family and friends.

Gray was a graduate of Great Lakes Maritime Academy. He also served as 1st Vice President of the International Shipmasters’ Association Grand Traverse Lodge #23.

“It was hard not to like Richard,” says Captain Mark Mather, ISMA Lodge #23 President and GLMA alum. “He had a sense of humor that not everyone got, but oh my gosh, he is famous for having the world’s worst puns and loving puns.”

Friends and colleagues say he was a part of many organizations. He is also said to have been a great man, devoted husband and father of three.

“An extremely dedicated father,” says Rebecca Hancock. “Loved those kids like his life depended on it and was one of the sweetest husbands you’d ever want to meet. He will be very much missed by everyone, but his legacy is evident in so many ways, his spirit will never be gone.”

Gray was part of getting a committee started called Membership and Outreach at the ISMA Lodge #23. Hancock says they thought it would be necessary to reach out to the younger people and that Gray was dedicated to Shipmasters’ and wanted to help the organization grow.

Hancock also says each year Gray would pay for a cadet’s subscription to a program called lapware, used to help cadets study for their license exams.

“Richard was also an adjunct instructor at the academy in his of times,” she says. “So, you can see that he truly cared about the future of not only individual people but the Great Lakes maritime industry in general.”

His friend and colleague Ryan Miller says the two met while at the GMLA in 2008. They were to of the “older” guys and bonded from that. They both went on to work for the same ship company.

Gray was working for the American Steamship Co. when he died.

Miller says he was in disbelief when he heard the news from Gray’s wife, Danielle.

He says Gray was the “ultimate family man.”

“Those three kids were his world… a devoted dad and husband,” Gray adds.

Miller has set up a for Gray’s family. It’s already raised over $63,000.

A visitation for Gray will be held Tuesday, January 25,  from 6-8pm at Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A Funeral Mass will take place on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Church at 11:00am with visitation from 10-11am.