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Alzheimer’s claims Elmer Gray, retired Calif. editor, at 82

VANCOUVER, Wa. (BP)–Elmer Gray, retired editor of the California Southern Baptist and a longtime pastor, educator and author, died Aug. 12 in Vancouver, Wash. He was 82.

Family members said Gray had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A funeral service was held Aug. 15 at Northside Baptist Church in Vancouver, where Gray and his wife, Martha, were members. Gray’s death came one month before the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary.

Gray became the fifth editor of the California Southern Baptist in January 1974. During his tenure as editor, Gray also wrote “Heirs of Promise,” an authorized history of California Southern Baptists spanning the period from 1940-78. Gray retired as the California Southern Baptist editor in September 1983, but continued writing Bible study lessons, devotional material, two books and numerous magazine articles.

In 1959 Gray became a professor of religious education and extension at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif. He left the seminary for four years to serve as manager of the Sunday school department at the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources), but returned to GGBTS as dean of the faculty in 1970.

Gray was born March 17, 1918, in Broken Arrow, Okla. While still in his teens, he accepted his first pastorate in Oklahoma, one of four he would hold in that state. Gray also served as pastor of churches in Kansas and Texas before moving to California in 1952. He served as pastor of three California churches: Bristol Street Southern Baptist in Santa Ana; First Southern Baptist in Long Beach; and First Southern Baptist in San Diego.

Gray also served on a variety of state and national denominational committees and boards during a ministry that spanned more than four decades.

Gray was a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and earned both a master’s and a Ph.D. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition to his wife, Gray is survived by two sons, a daughter, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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