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Mary Louise "Weezie" Gray

Date of Death: December 17, 2021

Date of Birth: December 12, 1928

Biography:

 

 Brunswick - Marie Louise “Weezie” Gray died peacefully in her sleep on Friday, December 17, 2021. She was born in Millville, Pennsylvania December 20, 1928 to Josiah Marion Reece and Marie Colt Reece. After graduating from the George School in Bucks County, PA, she attended Pembroke College in Brown University, Providence,RI, completing a B.A. in English in 1951 ,and then, following her marriage to another Brown graduate, Henry Caulfield Barksdale, and moving to St. Louis, MO, she attended Washington University in St, Louis, MO to pursue a Library Science Degree. She taught in the Lower School at Mary Institute, St. Louis in the early 1950's.

She maintained an active volunteer life in the St. Louis community while raising a family over the next 20 years, with her devoted attention always focused on the arts for children in the local cultural institutions and the schools. She became a trained volunteer in the first docent program stablished at the City Art Museum. Through her efforts, Children's Theatre Productions trouped to all the Public Schools in Metropolitan St. Louis. She was a staff member of the first Head Start Program in the city, providing singing and musical games for children from surrounding improvised areas. Her board memberships included the City Art Museum, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The New Music Circle, and the Museum of Science and Natural History. Her professional work over many later years included the research, writing and promoting of the Arts in Education on all educational levels throughout the United States in efforts to preserve and strengthen arts programs for youth. To complete her ensuing publications, she cooperated, as a consultant and administrator, with a variety of cultural and educational institutions, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arts for the Handicapped, the John D. Rockefeller the 3rd Fund, the Kennedy Center and State Arts Councils. Her work helped to establish Repertory Theatres and Museum programs for youth in several urban locations and to advance public arts education in general.

In 1972, she left Washington University where she was head of the Annual Fund for the College of Arts and Sciences to move to Providence, RI to become Director of Alumnae at Brown University and a member of the administrative staff responsible for the merger of Pembroke College and Brown University. In late 70s, she returned to free-lance work with Arts Institutions and Educators throughout the entire state. One outcome of her efforts was the rehiring of a State Supervisor of the Arts in the Public Schools of RI. For several following years, she worked for the President of the Rhode Island School of Design as a consultant, collaborating with the Museum of Art to involve its resources more fully in the teaching process at RISD.

 She married McGregor Gray in 1985 while living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After many years in Black Mountain, NC, they moved to Brunswick, ME in 1995 to be closer to the Gray summer home on nearby Birch Island, and to many family members living in New England.

 She was a member of the Society of Friends [Quakers], remaining staunch in her belief in their Peace Testimony and emphasis on Social Justice throughout her life. She had an especially deep devotion to Christian mysticism and contemplative prayer and was active in Inter-faith work in several locations where she lived.

 Throughout her life she retained an absolute passion for the natural world, for walking, hiking, enjoying wild flowers, trees and beauty wherever she travelled. Her joy in many kinds of music included classical, chamber ensembles, singing lieder, madrigal, folk songs, contemporary and jazz. Folk arts and crafts remained an especially strong delight as well. And, she was a life-long avid reader of literature. She became a devoted writer of essays based on experiences from her own long and full life.

 Ms. Gray is survived by her three children; Timothy Barksdale of Mokane, MO, Henry Barksdale Jr. of Cape Elizabeth, ME, and Elizabeth Barksdale Cooper of Newport, RI, her step-children, MacGregor and Barbara Gray of Brunswick, ME and Hildegard Gray of Atlanta, GA; her sister Ellen Purnell of Haddonfield, NJ and her 12 Grandchildren. Arrangements are in the care of Funeral Alternatives, 46 Bath Rd. Brunswick. Condolences may be shared at FuneralAlternatives.net

 

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