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Who Claude Gray
What Obituary: Claude Gray (The Tall Texan) Jr.
When April 28, 2023
Where Skokie, IL
 

Funeral Services for country music legend, Claude Gray, Jr., age 91, of Skokie, IL, formerly of Henderson, TX, will be Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 11 a.m., at Lakeview Baptist Church, 10522 Farm to Market Rd. 2011, Longview, TX, 75603, with Sam Newton and Ted White officiating. Interment will follow under the direction of Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home. The family will receive friends from 9 a.m. until service time, 11 a.m., at the church.

Mr. Gray passed away on April 28, 2023, in Skokie, IL. Born January 25, 1932, he was the son of Claude and Odelle McFadden Gray, who predeceased him. Also predeceasing him were three sisters, Mary Louise Adams, Opal Parker Bieciuk, and Beatrice Miller. Claude is survived by his sister, Velta Morris, (William), of Lancaster, SC; nephew, Sandy Ray Bristow (Charlotte) of Glenn Heights, Tx; niece, Judy Parker Richardson (Hoyt) of Aubrey, Tx; niece, Millicent Gray Tennison (Johnny) of Eustace, Tx; nephews, William Arthur Morris (Merritt) of Lancaster, SC and Claude Andrew Morris (Karen) of Colcord, OK. Also surviving are Brigitte Peick Ross, his former wife and long-time faithful companion, as well as a host of great-nieces and great nephews, friends, and devoted fans of country music.

A month after high school graduation in 1950 from Henderson High School, Rusk County, Texas, Claude enlisted in the US Navy and was sent to boot camp in San Diego, CA. Following boot camp, Claude was bound for Sasebo, Japan, where he was assigned to his ship, an oil tanker, the USS Cacapon, AO-52. This was his home for almost four years. He was selected to become a Quarter Master. In the Navy, Quarter Masters are helmsmen, navigators, and signalmen. His assignment was to work on the bridge.

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he began his country music career, which spanned a lifetime. It slowed only in his last years when his health began to decline making it was difficult to perform. He was fondly known as the "Tall Texan", and today his signature song, Family Bible, can still be heard on the radio.

Claude will be remembered for his other many well-known country hits, among them I'll Just Have a Cup of Coffee, Then I'll Go; How Fast Them Trucks Can Go, and, of course, the much-loved Family Bible. For years Claude performed regularly at will on the Grand Ole Opry, and during his long-time contracts with Mercury, Columbia and Decca MCA records. He had five hit records in the Billboard Top Ten charts where each sold over 1 million records. Today his music can still be heard of SiriusXM Radio.

On Saturday, August 10, 2019, Claude was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas, an honor well-deserved, as he spent a lifetime after his military career, in spreading country music across the United States and in several foreign countries. Also honored that evening were country stars Jeannie C. Riley and Rodney Crowell.

Late in life, Claude decided he wanted to write books and so he did. He authored two books in his 80s, an autobiography, Glorious Country Trail, and another in which he shared his thoughts on the condition of the current political scene, Washington Weasels. He, like many of us, always had an opinion.

Always a devoted reader of both fiction and non-fiction, he always stayed abreast of the current news and political climate, and would happily engage you in conversation on any topic. He was a self-taught student of the Bible and a professed believer in Jesus Christ. Claude was well-loved and he lived a life of loving others; he loved the simple things in life and as long as he lived he had a special fondness for his old home place in East Texas near Henderson.

Perhaps one of Claude's greatest joys came when he was included in the annual honor flight in August 2022. Leaving Illinois early in the morning, he was flown to Washington, DC along with other military veterans. It was a memorable day, packed with bestowing honors on and appreciation for our retired military men and women who are 78 years or older. Claude was especially grateful to be included in this historic occasion.

His family wishes to express a special thank-you to his cousin, Billy Zager, with whom he spent many hours reminiscing about old times, and to close and faithful friends, Terry and Lori Tyson, who were especially devoted to Claude.

Those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so to Lakeview Baptist Church, 10522 Farm to Market Rd 2011, Longview, TX 75603; or to the charity of one's choice.

To send flowers to the family or place a tree in memory of Claude Gray, Jr. ("The Tall Texan"), please visit our Tribute Store.

Published by Haben Funeral Home & Crematory on May 2, 2023.

Claude Gray - Decca Records Promo Photo

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