Teacher aide, artist Ann L. Gray dies at 84

The 84-year-old Garden City native, who died of The 84-year-old Garden City native, who died of respiratory failure at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, spent most of her life in the village. Photo Credit: handout

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From early childhood, Ann Leonard Gray showed an interest in and talent for art.

"She liked to create beauty," said her daughter, Pamela Gray Ahearn of New Orleans.

The 84-year-old Garden City native, who died Monday of respiratory failure at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, spent most of her life in the village. She worked for years as a teacher's aide at Garden City Nursery School.

But art was her first and longest-lasting love. She began to develop as a serious artist in high school. "She used to go down to the train station and draw people," her daughter said.

Gray painted in oils and did pen and ink drawings, primarily for her own pleasure. But she designed cards professionally for the Norcross Greeting Card Co. in the 1950s.

"She also restored old books and made decorative boxes and slipcases," Ahearn said. "She had more commissions than she could handle."

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Gray continued to spend much of her time on her art until she developed vision problems starting in her 40s but kept working at it until recent years when her eyesight deteriorated further.

The graduate of Garden City High School earned an associate degree from Green Mountain College in Vermont and then studied art at Cooper Union in Manhattan.

In 1949, she married James Andrew Gray, who served in the Army at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and was held as a prisoner of war in Germany. They lived briefly in Cincinnati after their marriage while he worked in advertising. In 1962, he was hired as director of public relations for the Nassau County Public Works Department.

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Ann Gray volunteered for years at the Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead.

"She set a high standard in everything she did, in her artwork, her gardening, her kindness and charity towards others," her daughter said. "She also set a very high standard in her cooking."

Besides her husband and daughter, Gray is survived by two brothers, Lewis Bartlett Leonard of Chicago and John Lander Leonard of Tucson, Ariz., and a grandson.

Visiting hours for Gray, who was cremated, are 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Fairchild Sons Funeral Home in Garden City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Interfaith Nutrition Network.

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