James ‘Jim’ Draper Gray III

ESCANABA — James “Jim” Draper Gray III was born in Rosedale, Minn., and grew up in Silver Bay, Minn. Until he was struck with Reyes Syndrome, causing epilepsy, he was a very bright, social little boy. We called him Tom Sawyer, as he would get friends to do his chores so that he could go out and play.

Jim graduated from William M Kelley High School in Silver Bay, Minn., where he played on the football and swimming teams. Although it is difficult for epileptics today, it was even harder for a teenager with epilepsy in the 1970s. Epileptic attacks frightened his fellow students and caused him isolation. Information on epilepsy was not well understood at that time.

After high school, Jim worked for Reserve Mining Company at their Mile Post Seven project to bring mining tailings to a storage area. Jim then attended the University of Minnesota-Crookston, graduating with a degree in hospitality and then the University of Wisconsin in computer science. His life took him to Las Vegas and Reno Nev., as well as Northern California working in the hospitality industry. Coming home to be nearer family, he moved to Green Bay, Wis., working first as a temporary worker and later at Lov-It Creamery.

Jim’s pleasures included travel with family, especially his sister Cathy, as well as hunting and fishing, especially with his dad as a boy.

As his epilepsy took its toll, he moved to Escanaba to be close to family. He volunteered at St Vincent de Paul food pantry and 24-hour adoration through St Joseph & St. Patrick Catholic Church at OSF St. Francis Hospital Chapel. 

He loved reading, especially science fiction, watching the Vikings and second best-watching the Packers with family. He actively attended his niece and nephews’ activities including concerts, plays, and his nephew’s baseball and football games. Family gatherings were a highlight.

In Jim’s life, he gave more than he received; taking in a family with even less than him, sharing a modest paycheck with a friend in need, or giving to his church. He did not expect a thank you.

He is survived by his sisters, Catherine Gray of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ann Gray (Paul) Bissell; beloved niece, Megan (Rob) Low of Washington D.C.; beloved nephews, Patrick “PJ” (Jennifer) Bissell, and Sean Bissell; grandniece, Aziza Low; and grandnephews, Maxwell Low and Odin Bissell.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ruth McKinley Gray and James D. Gray, Jr.; and sister, Mary.

Memorial services for the family will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Epilepsy Foundation, 8301 Professional Place West, Suite 230, Landover, MD 20785. The Anderson Funeral Homes are assisting the Gray family and online condolences can be sent at www.andersonfuneralhomes.net.