David A. Gray

David A. “Dave” Gray – 59 – loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend, of 5791 Morton Hill Road, Hornell, died unexpectedly on Thursday, July 8, 2021.

Born in St. Louis, MO on August 22, 1961, he was the son of Dr. John and Margaret (Veth) Gray.  Dave grew up in Missouri, spending his younger years in Ferguson and attending St. John and James Catholic School.  At age 9, his family moved to Clarksville, and Dave graduated from Clopton High School (Class of 1979).  He attended Northeast Missouri State University before transferring to the University of Missouri-Rolla, where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.  In 1984, Dave was hired by General Electric Company, serving in several management and supervisory capacities, including managing a three-shift operation for the assembly of electronic jet engine controls.  In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Business School where he earned his Masters in Business Administration.

Dave moved to the Hornell area in 1990, serving as Program Manager at Morrison Knudsen Corporation and American Passenger Rail Car Company.  He became the Senior Vice-President of Operations at Transportation and Transit Associates (TTA) in 1997, where he directed operations for TTA’s Hornell, Kanona, NY and San Francisco, CA locations.  He was also the Vice-President and General Manager of Transportations Systems for AAI Corporation.

In 2003, Dave established Gray Consulting, which provided strategic plans and technical guidance to various transit clients.  In 2006, with extensive knowledge and expertise in the rail car industry, Dave founded and was the President & CEO of Gray Manufacturing Industries (GMI).  For the last 15 years, he has operated this successful business supplying manufactured and remanufactured components and technical services to the Rail Transit Industry.

Dave was a devout, lifelong Catholic.  He was a member of St. John and James Parish in Ferguson, Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Clarksville, and most recently, a dedicated parishioner of Our Lady of the Valley Parish and a communicant of St. Ann’s Church in Hornell where he served as Eucharistic Minister.

Wherever Dave went, he was making friends, helping people who needed help, creating laughter and smiles, and was eager to tackle any problem for anyone at any time.  No one will ever know all the things he has done for others or all the lives he has touched along the way.

An active community member, Dave sat on numerous boards and volunteered for many organizations in Hornell.  He always found time for others, and tirelessly worked to make Hornell a better place.  He was a board member and volunteer at the Hornell YMCA for nearly 20 years and was instrumental in the construction of the new building, which was completed in 2011.  Dave was also a member of the Board of Directors of Maple City Savings Bank and The Hornell Chamber of Commerce and was a past member of the Board of Directors at St. James Mercy Hospital.  He was a United Way advocate, a lifelong blood donor for the American Red Cross, a Cub Scout Den Leader, and a Boy Scout Troop 16 Committee Member.  He was a Hornell Little League coach and was recognized as Coach of the Year in 2019.  But Dave’s proudest contribution to the community was his role in the founding of St. Ann’s Academy (SAA) in 2012.  For the past 9 years, he has dedicated time and resources to SAA, from raising money to keep tuition rates low for the children of the community, to purchasing equipment, wiring the building, installing white boards and projectors, fixing plumbing, shoveling snow and taking out trash, to bringing pizza to the school children and supporting the teachers and staff in every way possible.

In addition to serving his community, Dave loved gardening and working outdoors.  He cherished his yearly deer-hunting trips with friends to Wyoming.  When he wasn’t working or volunteering, Dave could be found at Twin Hickory Golf Club (especially with his Ex-Gods Golf League buddies) or at his cottage on Loon Lake.  He was a member of the Hornell Association, Hornell Elks Lodge, and the Knights of Columbus.  But most of all, Dave loved the time he spent with family, especially sporting events and Boy Scout activities with his son, Nicholas.

On May 19, 2007, Dave was married at St. Ann’s Church in Hornell to the former Penelope (Penny) Sherburne who survives.  Also surviving are his son, Nicholas of Hornell; step-children, Kaelyn (Matt) Willcox of East Syracuse, NY and Matthew Dessena of Conway, SC; his parents, Dr. John & Margaret (Veth) Gray of Clarksville, MO; two brothers, Joe (Jo Ann) Gray of Clarksville, MO and Mike (Sandy) Gray of St. Charles, MO; sister-in-law, Ellen Gray of Kirksville, MO; his mother- and father-in-law, Dave & Liz Sherburne of Hornell; brother-in-law, John (Diana) Sherburne of Marstons Mills, MA; sister-in law, Kim Sherburne of Lakewood Ranch, FL; several God-children; many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends.

Dave was preceded in death by his brother, Mark Gray in 2017; two infant siblings, Teresa Gray and Stephen Gray; grandparents, James & Anna Gray and Otto & Theresa Veth.

There are many words to describe David Gray…  selfless, honest, trustworthy, passionate, hard-working, giving, brilliant, and kind to name a few.  Dave was generous beyond measure and would give everything he had to his community and commitments. But most of all, he was a devoted husband to Penny, a proud and loving father to Nicholas and step-children Kaelyn & Matthew, a loyal and attentive son, brother, and friend.

Knowing Dave had an impact on the lives of so many, friends are encouraged to send a letter to Dave’s son, Nicholas, sharing a story or anecdote about how Dave touched your life.

At Dave’s family’s request, there will be no public calling hours.  Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday (July 20th) at 10:00 AM at St. Ann’s Church with Fr. Stan Kacprzak officiating.  The Funeral Mass for David A. Gray will be streamed live and can be viewed on the Dagon Funeral Home Facebook page on Tuesday at 10:00 AM by visiting www.facebook.com/dagonfuneralhomeBurial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Dave’s goal was for St. Ann’s Academy to serve the children of our community for generations to come.  Friends and family have agreed to establish a long-term fund in his name.  To help achieve that goal, please consider a gift to St. Ann’s Academy, 41 Genesee St., Hornell, NY 14843.

Funeral arrangements are in care of the Dagon Funeral Home, 38 Church St., Hornell, NY.

To leave an online condolence or share a memory, visit www.dagonfuneralhome.com or www.facebook.com/dagonfuneralhome.


22 Responses to “David A. Gray”

  1. Maddie & Family says:

    So sorry for your loss . My heart goes out to Penny & the family I met David who coached Alfie a couple of years ago for Rotary.. .. such a pleasant genuine person!He will be sadly missed in the baseball family

  2. Judy Allwood says:

    Penny, Nicholas, John and Marge, and extended family; you are all in my thoughts and prayers. There are no words for your horrific shock and grief. David was such an awesome fellow; charismatic, smart, compassionate and always eager to serve. It was my privilege to have known him. May God’s blessings grant strength and faith at this sad time.

  3. Geniese & Keith Brewster says:

    Our hearts are heavy at your loss. Praying that God gives you all His peace at this time.

  4. Matthew Sassano says:

    On behalf of myself, my wife Jeanette and our congregation at Fresh Start Church, please accept our deepest condolences as well as heartfelt prayers for his family, friends and ALL those close to David. Our hearts are broken. May God and our Lord Jesus Christ grant you the peace only He can provide.

  5. Stephanie Conway says:

    Such a loss for the Hornell community. Dave gave so much to others through his volunteerism.
    It was an honor to know you, gone but not forgotten.Xe

  6. Nicky Dunn says:

    So sorry for your loss, such a big loss for everyone he knew. From what I have read about Dave he was a big part of his hometown community and will be missed.
    I was lucky enough to have worked with Dave over the many years on different Rail Car projects in Chicago. He was part of a team I constantly relied on, Steve Charles, Dave Gray and Steve Knapp. I could not have asked for more supportive Supervisors. His knowledge and support will be missed.

  7. Shawn Hogan says:

    I am heartbroken at the news of Dave’s passing, truly one of the best. I have known Dave for many years, never met a finer
    Individual. This is a tragic loss for his family and the community at large. My most sincere sympathy to Penny and Dave’s son and his entire family. I consider myself blessed to have known this fine human being. God Bless him and his family.
    Shawn D. Hogan

  8. Kay Wilson says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Dave was a kind genuine man. He will be greatly missed.

  9. Sharon Colbert Jepsen says:

    So very sorry to hear of this tragedy. Dave was a great guy and a terrific classmate. I’m sure his loss will be felt widely. Condolences to all his family.

  10. Amy Mikolajczyk says:

    Penny I have no words to express the sadness I feel for you and your family. Please know the Miks are praying for you all. May God’s peace envelop you through the words and actions of this community, who loved Dave so very much.

  11. Kate Warren says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. He was a vital part of the YMCA and we will all miss him dearly. Praying for Penny, Nick, and all his family and friends whose lives he touched.

  12. Ryan Andrus says:

    Dave was an exceptional man in every way. I knew him from the time I was a young boy – I was about the same age my son is now. Over the last few days as I’ve had the time to contemplate his passing, one thing keeps coming to mind. If a true analogue for George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life existed, that man was truly Dave. So many words come to mind when I think of him: integrity, honesty, selflessness, commitment – but most of all, service. Dave was always thinking about the needs of others first, and himself last. He was committed to helping his family, friends, church, and community. If we could all aspire to be just a fraction of the man Dave was, the world would truly be a better place. Thank you, Dave. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: they certainly broke the mold with you. Rest easy, my friend, you will be missed.

  13. Bev Butler says:

    Dave was hands down the kindest,smartest, most well-rounded person I have ever met and fortunately,I had the pleasure of working for. Always… a smile and a kind word. Condolences and prayers from my family to his.

  14. Larry Scarcia says:

    Very sad to hear of Dave’s passing, He was my Program Manager at MK on the Amtrak Viewliner project. He was a wonderful person and a very hard worker. Dedicated to his job and the success of his team. My deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.

  15. John Shtatman says:

    Having only met the man once, but spent countless hours over 11 years conducting business on the telephone, David Gray was hands down, easily, my favorite ever. I was crushed and devastated to learn of his passing, and can’t begin to imagine the loss those who were close to him, feel. I am so sorry for all who knew him. I don’t think anybody could have a bad or unkind word of Dave. It makes me so sad to know that I will never hear his voice, again, but in my head, and fond memories.
    All the more reason to support the cause, if ever there was one. :(

  16. Kim Clifford Wood says:

    Dear Penny and family:

    I am so sad and sorry for your loss….there are no words to ease your pain, but know you’re in our prayers. I met Dave in my YMCA days, and he was one of the nicest, kindest guys I’ve ever met. Always willing to go the extra mile. And then I’d hear his name often, through the scouting program when my son in law became involved. You were always helping somewhere in the community and you were always smiling. Then, I remember when you and Penny visited my son in Disney World… Rich called me to say you and Penny were the nicest couple ever & how he enjoyed talking with you both. He was so sad hearing the news..& praying for you all.
    From my little family….we send our prayers and our sympathy. Our prayers will continue in the days & weeks ahead. Jesus is holding you all in the palm of his hands….. may you feel God’s comfort. God bless
    The Wood Family.

  17. Daniel Billman says:

    I was Dave’s housemate at HBS as a group of us rented a home. I’m sorry for his family’s loss but as I’ve thought about it TODAY , his death is really all our loss The world lost a very good man as it will be hard to replace a man like Dave. He was everything good about this world: caring, honorable, smart, trustworthy, kind, responsible a good cook and friend.

    I would describe Dave as a selfless friend–I think he was the type of guy that could get along with anyone and would help them in anyway he could. I don’t think it possible to meet a more humble or nicer guy given all his talents.

    And he was fun to be around. It may sound odd but what i remember most being his house mate is every evening around 7pm we’d all take a break studying and gather on his couch to watch the rerun of the 1960’s TV batman show and try to guess what word Batman or Robin would say after Holy–Holy smoke, holy jeepers etc. I think Dave was the best at it I was not so good but in a cheesy way it was fun and I looked forward to our ritual every evening. RIP DAVE. This world will miss you

  18. Daniel Billman says:

    Sometimes after some rest one realizes what they wanted to write but in their haste didn’t get the job done the first time , especially for such a good man like Dave so Id like to add to my comments a few days ago a better and maybe more succinct tribute about my friend Dave Gray

    “Dave was type of guy you wanted to have as your friend, and in your life whether it be a neighborhood, a town, a business, a church or a school as he made everyone around him a better person.”

    Im thankful I was blessed that he was in my life a few seasons and got to know him for the -great man he truly was. RIP Dave and thank you for your selfless kindness to me.

  19. Bob Anderson says:

    I was so very sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. Continued prayers for family, friends and coworkers.

  20. Stephen Roberts says:

    This is such a terrible loss, Dave was one of the best and I enjoyed working with him on several projects while we were with MK, we had quite a few laughs along with some great outings. I remember when we were doing the CTA 3200 project and it was such a dynamic job and we had so much fun mostly due to Daves get it done attitude and sense of humor. I got to work with again on the Amtrak job in Chicago and the magic didnt stop there as it was get it done and have fun all over again. As I read through this obituary it truly represents what a wonderful person he was and his contributions to his fellow man. I look forward meeting Dave again when it is my time to go through the pearly gates and I know he will be there with his usual “Hello Steve O”, we will miss you Dave, God Bless.

  21. Bill Pullman says:

    Tamara and I wish we could be there tomorrow at St Ann’s and after to stand in tribute to Dave and with you Penny and Nick. I include myself with many, many others who have and will always speak of this man as one of the exceptional. My memory of Dave and the joy that sprung out of him I believe will always spur me on to do more for others, think best of those that challenge us the most, and share fully in the circle of friends and family.

  22. Dennis & Teresa Price says:

    Dennis and I are so sorry to hear of David’s passing. We both have fond memories of working with David at MK/Alstom. We admired his strong work ethics and his fairness with his team members. He was a great person to know!