James Samuel Gray, of Menifee, California, died of complications of Parkinson's disease on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, at the age of 84 years. Born on August 15, 1936 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Lucille Pauline Goodale Gray (later Russell) and Horace Woods Gray, he grew up in Lincoln, where he met his future wife, Joan Adele Engdahl, of Hooper, Nebraska. They were married in July of 1955 and celebrated 65 years of marriage before Jim's illness took his life.
Jim and Joni lived in Lincoln and Fremont, Nebraska, before relocating to Golden, Colorado in 1959, where they lived for fourteen years, raising three daughters. They were charter members of Faith Lutheran Church in Golden. In 1973, they relocated once again to Thousand Oaks, California. Jim's early employment was largely in the computer sales industry. However, in 1982, he heard the call of God and the American Lutheran Church, and became the Assistant for Business Administration to two bishops, Gaylerd Falde and Nelson Trout. Upon the merger of the predecessor Lutheran bodies that became the ELCA, he started his own meeting planning business, Five Star Meetings and Incentives. His clients were mostly Lutheran synods, and he managed annual Synod Assemblies in Northern California/Nevada and Arizona, but he also worked with Presbyterians and other groups. He excelled at diplomacy and his heart was full of faithful concern for others. Two of his daughters and four of his granddaughters attended/graduated from California Lutheran University, where he served as a member of the Convocation and as the president of the California Lutheran Educational Foundation. Jim and Joni moved to Sun City (now called Menifee) in 1996 where he was living at the time of his passing.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Joan Adele Engdahl Gray, his daughters: Jerayne (Jeri) Gray-Reneberg and husband Perry Gray-Reneberg, of McKinleyville, California; Jodene (Jodi) Gray Paris and partner Anderson "Clem" Clemons, of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Janell Gray Kluss and husband Larry Kluss of Newbury Park, California; as well as grandchildren Wren St. Gray and husband Erik St. Gray, Linden Gray-Reneberg, Tyson Kluss, Danise Kluss, Juliette Paris, Jade Paris, Jordan Paris, Jared Paris and wife Georgina Paris; and great-grandchildren Coral Paris-Caringella, Johnny Lawrence Paris-Rider, Auzrin Paris, and James Paris.
Services will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, November 24 at 1:00 p.m. For the Zoom link, please e-mail Jim's daughter Jeri at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wish to honor Jim, in lieu of flowers or other gifts, please consider the institution that meant so much to him, California Lutheran University. Donations in his memory will be applied to the Convocator Nomination Scholarship and may be sent to 60 W. Olsen Road #1650, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 or made online at www.CalLutheran.edu/memorialgift
. For information, contact Lana Clark at 805-493-3163 or lclark@CalLutheran.edu