Public service

Obituary: Gary Gray, councilor with selfless devotion to public service

GLASGOW Councilor Gary Gray’s purpose and happiness in life was founded in service to others, writes Paul Sweeney MSP.

Gray, who died suddenly on February 13 at the age of 49, had been a Labor councilor for the Canal ward in the north of the city since 2017. He was first elected in 2003, as a councilor for the Milton ward.

He had a selfless calling for public service and a love for friends and family, as well as a civic pride in Glasgow and the working-class Possilpark community in which he was born and raised.

Born on December 11, 1972 to Paul and Margaret Gray, he was educated at St Augustine’s Secondary School in Milton. As a child raised in one of the most deprived areas of the city, he could hardly imagine that one day he would represent his local community in the city chambers.

He joined the Labor Party in the early 1990s, inspired by activists working for the betterment of his local community, such as Sadie Gordon and the late Ellen Hurcombe.

He soon became politically active, joining the Hawthorn Housing Co-operative.

Despite his outgoing personality and easygoing charm, he was not someone who simply viewed running for the board as a way to rise to higher office. Nor did he covet public recognition for his work – he did so because he cared deeply about his community and sought to use all his influence to improve the lives of those he represented.

He had a perseverance that triumphed over his long and often debilitating illness and the tragic incidents in his life, especially the death of his identical twin, Stephen, in 2006 at the age of just 33.

Stephen’s struggle with PTSD after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Royal Highland Fusiliers and Black Watch inspired Gary to strongly support the Scottish Poppy Appeal each year, leading the collection effort in the north of the city.

Among Gary’s countless accomplishments, his unwavering support of the veteran community, his focus on improving mental health services and serving his constituents were his proudest. He was a community champion, and his local community will be poorer for his passing.

The disbelief and distress felt by so many at his sudden passing, in the midst of his enthusiastic campaign for re-election to council, is a reflection of the affection felt for him by community leaders, voters whom he diligently assisted over the years, those who found comfort in his ministry, political comrades and opponents, and of course his beloved son, Bobby, whom he adored and spoke of often while beaming with pride.

On his late brother’s grave, it is inscribed that “grief is the price we pay for love”. As a twin, Gary paid a higher price than most, but he used this acute awareness, along with his inherent gifts of compassion and kindness, to help many others cope with the loss of their lives. .