Mrs. Gladys Gray
Mrs. Gladys Gray
2012 Honorary Alumna
From time to time the Faith Alumni Association recognizes a person as an honorary alumnus. This title is given to an individual who did not graduate from Faith but who has made a significant contribution to the institution. This year we are pleased to confer the title of honorary alumna on Mrs. Gladys Gray.
Gladys Charlton grew up in Des Moines and attended Grandview Park Baptist Church. After high school, she attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After her years at Moody, she returned to Des Moines to work and once again became an active member at Grandview Park Baptist Church.
Her pastor at Grandview was Carl Elgena. After a few years, he left Grandview to become a vice president of Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City, New York. When he learned of the need for an assistant dean of women at the school, he thought of Gladys Charlton, and the school invited her to join their staff. She later became the dean of women.
After serving there for a number of years, she returned to Des Moines where she worked as a life insurance underwriter for Central Life Insurance Company. She resumed her ministry at Grandview Park Baptist Church where David Nettleton was now the pastor. Gladys was content with her job and her church ministry. She seemed set for life until one day a life-changing phone call came.
Before we get to the phone call, we need to pick up two more threads in this unfolding drama. The first thread related to Dr. David Nettleton, one of her pastors at Grandview. A few years after Gladys returned to Des Moines, David Nettleton became president of Faith Baptist Bible College.
The second thread related to Dr. Harry B. Gray, who was a professor and dean of education at Faith. In 1970 his wife Audrey went to be with the Lord. The Grays had three children, Jenetta, Paul, and Melody, and Melody was still in high school. Dr. Gray knew he needed a wife and his children needed a mother.
Now back to the phone call. Dr. Nettleton called Gladys one day at her work to ask her if he could talk her into going to dinner with Dr. Gray. Keep in mind that Gladys knew of Dr. Gray but did not know him personally, so she said she was not interested. We do not know all that developed in that conversation, but at one point Gladys said, “Well, I’m not going to marry him!” That ended that conversation.
However, not more than five minutes later, Dr. Gray called Gladys and told her he was not asking her to marry him but simply go to dinner with him.
She finally gave in and they enjoyed dinner at a restaurant in Newton. They began to get to know each other that evening and enjoyed each other’s company.
Dr. Gray wanted his children to know Gladys. Melody knew her because she was still at home. Son Paul came from Dallas on one occasion to meet her. Dr. Gray was planning a trip to Bonaire, an island in the Caribbean where his older daughter and husband served as missionaries. Dr. Gray asked for a photo of Gladys to show his daughter. While he had not asked Gladys to marry him yet, he wanted the approval of all his children.
Contrary to Gladys’s earlier statement on that call from Dr. Nettleton, she agreed to marry Dr. Gray. They were married on September 1, 1972. School had started that year, but the Labor Day weekend allowed them a brief honeymoon in the Amana Colonies.
Gladys Gray became a faithful partner to Dr. Gray, a loving mother to his three children (all of whom call her Mother), and a dedicated volunteer worker at Faith. My wife, Judy, remembers that if Mrs. Gray committed to volunteering on a certain day here at Faith, she was there as promised. She came with a smile and on time, ready to work on the project – usually a mailing that needed to be stuffed, sealed, and sorted. Mrs. Gray’s humor and happy demeanor helped make the time fly. Volunteers working on projects in the Administration Building hallways welcomed the announcement, “We are almost done!” This often was followed by a cheer from Mrs. Gray.
Today we come to honor Gladys Gray for her sacrificial labors at Faith for many years. She is a beloved lady on the Faith campus, and we are thankful for the role she has played here over the years. It is our privilege to recognize Mrs. Gladys Gray as an honorary alumna of Faith.
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