Rondy Gray, colorful businessman and neighborhood leader who built the initially Brazos Queen riverboat providing excursions on Lake Brazos, closed offers with a handshake and relished his weekly poker games, has died at age 89.
Gray, who suffered poor overall health in current years, was a staunch supporter of Baylor University, attending college just after his discharge from the U.S. Army and graduating in 1959. He was a member of Baylor’s Noze Brotherhood, an irreverent campus organization renowned for sensible jokes. He and wife Jackie unfailingly attended Baylor women’s basketball games.
Gray and his initially wife, the late Gloria Gray, donated funds to construct a exercise facility at Baylor’s Ferrell Center in honor of their son, Rondy Bruce Gray.
Longtime pal Paul McClinton stated he, Gray and the late Jim Hawkins typically collaborated on actual estate offers as they enjoyed a “terrific trip by means of life more than 55 years.” They met as members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, a now defunct organization for younger small business leaders. Gray took more than Waco Welders Provide just after his father’s death in 1968 and served as president and owner, expanding to 23 shops statewide. He sold the firm in 1997, according to biographical details supplied by Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Dwelling. Gray typically financed new shop openings for other individuals, McClinton stated.
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“He served on the board of Texas National Bank and was a founding board member of Texas Initial State Bank till 2020,” according to the details from the funeral dwelling.
But the Brazos Queen became Gray’s project with arguably the highest profile. A complementary improvement was the Brazos Landing restaurant, which opened in the late 1970s to prepare meals for the properly-attended Brazos Queen cruises.
With visions of a craft navigating the Brazos River, Gray managed to lease old hangar space at Texas State Technical College for only $1 a year. There, with support from a consultant brought to Waco from Wisconsin, the riverboat was crafted from scraps of steel, McClinton stated.
“We told him we wanted to place air-conditioning on the boat, and he stated riverboats have by no means had air-conditioning, and he would go back to Wisconsin if we attempted to set up it on this 1,” McClinton stated. “We waited till the final minute, then had Lochridge-Priest come out to take measurements.
“He left for Wisconsin that afternoon,” McClinton stated with a laugh.
The riverboat drew vacationers and national publications such as Southern Living to Waco’s riverbank, he stated. But also typically the boat was left higher and dry by a malfunctioning low-water dam constructed to retain water levels on manmade Lake Brazos. Water would drain downstream, leaving the Brazos Queen sitting on mud.
“I keep in mind that taking place when when a huge occasion was planned,” McClinton stated. “I was in Chicago attending a restaurant show, and Rondy woke me up with a telephone get in touch with, annoyed. I stated, ‘I’m in Chicago,’ and he stated, ‘Well, you happen to be my companion in this, and I wanted to let you know what occurred.'”
The boat was sold to somebody wanting to use it on Lake Ray Hubbard.
Waco actual estate agent Bland Cromwell stated he remembers initially sitting at the negotiating table with Hawkins and Gray in the late 1970s. He stated Gray affectionately referred to him as “hippie” or “hip” owing to his longish hair.
“Essentially, he’s been in terrible overall health for years, but his thoughts has been terrific,” Cromwell stated. “I keep in mind closing a deal with him much less than two years ago, lots of moving components, and I met with him at his dwelling. He was a enjoyable guy to do small business with. He and Jackie went everywhere. She was fantastic for him, would get him to every thing, even if he was not in terrific physical shape.”
McClinton stated Gray and Hawkins kept a operating tally of their winnings and losings at the card table. If Gray suffered an evening of terrible luck, he would recommend the group not meet for its common lunch date the subsequent day, McClinton stated. Buddies would persuade him that a meal would do him superior.
Although not a massive hunting fan, Gray would indulge in dove-hunting trips to Mexico with businessman Clifton Robinson, McClinton stated. He stated Gray was a charter member of the “gossip club” that convened Sunday mornings on businessman Bill Miller’s barge at Ridgewood Nation Club.
“That was known as their Sunday morning devotional,” he stated.
Hawkins died in November final year just after battling Alzheimer’s. Gray typically visited his just about lifelong companion, even for the duration of Hawkins’ final days.
“Burying his buddy was challenging on him,” Cromwell stated of Gray. “I am considering his physique stated, ‘My buddy is gone, and I am going, also.'”
Funeral solutions for Gray are scheduled 11 a.m. Wednesday at Central Christian Church, the Rev. Brian Coats officiating.
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