Dr. S. Lee Gray, a long-time resident of Fort Collins, was called home by his Heavenly Father on Wednesday, July 22, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by Karlin, his wife of 55 years; his brother, John (Linda); his sister, Meredith (Gordon); sons Christopher (Christel) and John; daughter Heather (Matt); and five grandchildren.
Lee was born to Harold and Phyllis Gray on August 9, 1940 in Marshalltown, Iowa. He was raised in nearby State Center, before the family relocated to Englewood, and then Arvada, Colo. He was a three-sport letterman at Arvada High School, where he garnered All-Conference honors in football as a defensive tackle. After graduation, Lee moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University, where he played freshman football, studied business administration, and sang in the CSU Singers. He met his wife Karlin in the CSU Singers (under the direction and strict supervision of his future Father-in-Law, Edward Anderson) and they were married in 1964. Lee received a Master’s degree in economics at CSU, after which he and Karlin moved to Pullman, Washington; where he earned a Ph. D in agricultural economics at Washington State University. While at WSU, Lee won the American Agricultural Association award for his dissertation and received the first funded research award for developing an input-output model for water use in Colorado. Upon completion of his PhD, Lee returned to CSU to join the Economics Department faculty.
Lee took tremendous pride in teaching and loved his students. He was recognized for his teaching abilities most notably, as a recipient of the Oliver P. Pennock Award for excellence in teaching. He was voted a “Top Prof” by his students. His achievements included the Western Agricultural Economic Association Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Faculty Award for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Eventually Lee’s career moved into administration. He served as Chairman of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics for 15 years and as Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences for two years. As he transitioned into retirement, Lee returned to his primary professional love, teaching. In 2018, he was inducted into the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department Hall of Fame.
Lee was an accomplished bass soloist. He sang roles in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Carmen, Faust, and The Magic Flute. He also appeared as a soloist with the Larimer Chorale, St. Luke’s Bach Festival, and the Fort Collins Chamber Chorale. He was also a very competitive handball player for several decades, was an Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins and passed along the gift of fly fishing to his family. Lee was an instant and compassionate friend to all, quick to share a warm handshake or hug. He was a loving husband and father and will be sorely missed.
In compliance with Covid19 restrictions, a Celebration of Life for the family only will be held on Friday, July 31st, 11:00am, at First Presbyterian Church. It will be streamed for friends to watch and hear from First Pres on the website.
Memorials may be directed to First Presbyterian Church Music Program or Colorado State University Foundation Lee Gray Scholarship in care of Allnutt, 650 West Drake Road, Fort Collins, 80526.