We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Donaldson Funeral Home, P.A.
Willie Clyde Gray, a devoted husband, father, son and former federal agent, was born December 13, 1948, to Mattie Lee Gray and Willie Dees in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He died peacefully in his sleep on July 20, 2022 at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.
After his mother’s death when he was 5 years old, Willie’s adoring aunt and uncle, John R. Gray and Eva Hutcherson Gray, moved Willie and his five brothers to Cantonment, Florida, where they were raised and engulfed in firm discipline, Christian values and love.
At 19, Willie enrolled in the Army and courageously fought in the Vietnam War where he was badly injured by friendly fire. In recognition of his combat wounds and heroism, Willie received Purple Heart and Bronze Star awards. When he returned to the United States, Willie worked briefly as a janitor at Pensacola Junior College and enrolled in the local police academy. He went on to work as a police officer, detective and chief detective in Pensacola. During this time, Willie attended Pensacola Junior College (Pensacola State College) and earned an associate degree in criminal justice.
Willie had a deep passion for combatting illegal narcotics, which often placed him in scuffles and dangerous encounters. His law enforcement prowess was renowned among law enforcement circles throughout the southeastern United States, which drew the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The agency recruited Willie and he successfully underwent rigorous special agent training. At DEA’s request, Willie left Florida for New York City in 1975 where he worked 30 years as a Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, Special Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge (New York Divisional Office) and Group Supervisor. He spent his final years with DEA as Group Supervisor of the Newark, New Jersey Field Division. He retired in 2005 with numerous accolades and recognitions for his years of laudable service. Several years before his retirement, Willie re-enrolled in college at Strayer University in Alexandria,Virginia. Although he did not complete his bachelor's degree, this effort was a testament to his passion for learning and personal growth.
In the early 1970s , Willie married Phyliss Harper, with whom he had one son, Willie Jr. In 1980 he married Doris Lee Gore and their union produced one daughter, Kristin. Doris and Willie were married for 36 blissful years before his wife’s passing in 2013. Outside of law enforcement, Willie enjoyed singing, playing the piano, watching Mike Tyson boxing fights, gardening, fishing, teaching himself Spanish and spending time with family. Later in life, Willie became an avid artist and often painted beautiful rural landscapes, civil rights leaders, animals and self-portraits. A God-fearing man, he attended Messiah Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey for many years before joining St. James A.M.E. Church in Newark, New Jersey. In 2016 he moved to Maryland to be closer to his daughter. He regularly attended Hope to You Community Church in Bowie, Maryland and also enjoyed trips to the mall, eating seafood and playing bingo.
Survivors include his former wife, Phyliss, of Atlanta, GA; son Willie (Cassie) of Savannah, GA; Kristin of Laurel, MD; granddaughters A’talie Gray and Ellington Rodney; brother Eddie Gray of East Orange, NJ; sisters-in-law Joan Gray of Middletown, NJ; Linda Gray of Cape Coral, FL; Rosaland Gore-Lance (Michael) of North Myrtle Beach; Dorothy Gore of Supply, NC; brothers-in-law, Rondie Gore of Winston Salem, NC and Richard Williams of Maplewood, NJ; devoted caregiver Elena Renteria; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, church family and friends.