I just can’t believe that Dr. Frank Gray is gone. The retired orthopedic surgeon, music lover and fixture on Knoxville’s social scene has been a regular on the Blue Streak since its inception. That’s because he was passionate about so many things.
Dr. Gray, who passed away last Friday after a battle with a rare cancer, was among Jim and Natalie Haslam’s best friends. Jim Haslam spoke on behalf of the couple this week when he said, “It was a blessing for us to know and interact closely with Frank. He was a real Renaissance man. He was at home in the operating room, at the piano, in the kitchen or in his garden. He will be missed by many.”
I knew Frank best due to our mutual membership on the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors. He was president of the board for two terms and even filled in as executive director when that post was between occupants. He taught me by example how to be a better board member, and he was my mentor and my cheerleader when I became president of the KSO board several years ago.
But what I will remember and miss the most about Frank is the mischievous grin and twinkle in his eyes when he was displaying his wry sense of humor.
Rachel Ford, executive director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, said Frank Gray’s passing leaves “a hole in the Knoxville Symphony family.”
“Dr. Gray loved music — listening to it, discussing it, performing it,” she said. “And he shared that love for many years in various ways for the benefit of the Symphony. He knew the KSO inside and out, having served four years as president of the board and also sitting in the executive director’s chair to manage the operations of the institution. We will miss his perspective, his enthusiasm and genuine love for music and the Symphony.”
Sharon Pryse, the founder of The Trust Company of Tennessee, also was a good friend of Dr. Gray and also served with him on the KSO board. They had two other things in common: a love of gardening and leadership roles in St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.
“Frank was a brilliant, gentle soul,” she said. “But, wow, did he, as Clerk of the Works, keep us on budget with our recent multi-million dollar church renovation and new organ installation.”
She also noted his contributions to the Knoxville Symphony. “His longstanding dedication to excellence at the KSO really helped mold the Symphony into what it is today,” she said. “We have lost one of the greats.”
I thought you’d enjoy some photos of Frank as he was out and about living life to the fullest in the community that he loved.
You can read an account of that lovely afternoon if you click here.
A memorial service for Dr. Gray will be held in the future. His family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the following: Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, 100 S. Gay St., #302, Knoxville, TN 37902; St. John’s Cathedral, 413 Cumberland Ave., Knoxville, TN 37902; InterFaith Health Clinic, 315 Gill Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917; or the charity of your choice.