Alvin Eugene Gray Sr.
Funeral services were held Aug. 3, 2022, at Jefferson Davis County Middle School Gymnasium for Alvin Eugene Gray Sr., 73, who died July 21 at The Claiborne, McComb. Rev. Timothy Rush officiated, with interment following at Green Grove Baptist Church. Johnson Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Gray was born to the late Oscar T. and Virdie Bell Roberts Gray in Waynesboro. He was known to his friends as “Gene.” He attended Riverview High School in Waynesboro, where he was a popular football student. After graduating from high school, he continued his education at Prentiss Normal & Industrial Institute, where he received his associate degree. He was encouraged to try out for the football team at University of Southern Mississippi and was successful and earned a football scholarship and in 1970, became one of the first black football players at USM. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree and later received his Master of Education in administration and supervision from William Carey University.
Mr. Gray was introduced to Patricia Ann Dampier, of Monticello, at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 1972, they were married in a double wedding ceremony with Alfredia Dampier, Patricia’s sister, and Melvin Miller.
Mr. Gray and his wife established their home in Prentiss, where he began his outstanding career as a coach and physical education teacher at Prentiss High School. After moving through the ranks as an assistant coach, he assumed the head coach position and elevated his teams to championship level. His team were always competitive and in 1996, he led the Prentiss Bulldogs to the South State High School Championship in their division. He retired in 2002; in recognition of his outstanding service as a coach, the Jefferson Davis County School District honored him in 2008 by renaming the Prentiss High School football field the “A.E. Gray Football Field.” He coached two years as an assistant football coach at T. L. Weston High School in Greenville.
After ending his coaching career, he served as parent involvement coordinator for Jefferson Davis County. He served as coordinator for the Al Jefferson Summer Youth Basketball Camp Organization. He also founded the “Men of Action” mentoring program to assist with providing role models and guidance for youth in schools and community. Mr. Gray served a total of 44 years of coaching, teaching, and mentoring youth.
Mr. Gray united with Prentiss First Baptist Church upon returning from Greenville, where he served as an usher and trustee. Later, he reunited with Green Grove Baptist Church, where he remained active until his health failed.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Myrthul Gray and Quitman Gray; sister, Katherine Gray Rankin; and father-in-law, Arthur Dampier Sr.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Dampier Gray, of Ridgeland; daughter, Patrelle (Marvin) Jackson, of Jackson; son, Alvin (Angela) Gray II, of Ridgeland; three grandchildren, Martrele Jackson, Marione Jackson, and Alvin Gray III; brothers, Ret. SM Sgt Oscar (Jung) Gray Jr., of Brown Mills, N.J.; Carl (Patricia) Gray, of Bedford Heights, Ohio; and Johnny (Gloria) Gray, of Waynesboro; sister, Josephine (Johnny) Cunningham, of Toledo, Ohio; mother-in-law, Veronica Dampier, of Ridgeland; brothers-in-law, Willie Rankin, of Waynesboro; Melvin (Alfredia) Miller, of Ridgeland; Dr. Arthur (Joiiya) Dampier II, of Madison; many other relatives and friends.