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Obituaries: Lois Marie Gray, née Unke


July 24, 2020

Lois Marie Gray, née Unke

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Lois Gray, our loving and devoted mother, and friend to all whose lives she touched. Lois Marie Gray, née Unke, 90, went to her heavenly home on July 1, 2020, after a courageous battle with lung cancer.

Lois was born Nov. 17, 1929, and was raised on the family farm near Cavalier, North Dakota, where she worked in the fields with her father. At age 16, she enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where she met Forrest, her husband of 49 years. After graduation, Mom and Dad held careers as teachers, all while raising seven children. After many years of teaching, they retired from Cromwell High School before moving to Mesa, Arizona to live out their sunset years.

Our mom was a petite, intelligent, beautiful lady who could do anything she tackled. She drove truck alongside the men on the farm (even though she could barely reach the pedals). As a business education teacher, she ran a tight ship in the classroom, yet was well-respected by her students and peers. She also ran a tight ship at home - vital when raising seven kids in a house with one bathroom! She mastered the art of dancing to big band swing music and kept her "happy feet" going all her life. Fortunately, Mom loved music because, as the wife of a band and choir director with children who also played instruments and sang, she patiently sat through hundreds of musicals and concerts.

Mom loved spending time with friends and family, enjoying a variety of activities including bowling, golfing, playing cards, bridge, bingo and hitting royal flushes on the casino slot machines. She was a woman of strong Lutheran faith, which was evident in the way she lived her life. She was patient, kind, loving, and fun to be around. Mom always said that a sense of humor was the most important trait in a long marriage and raising kids.

She leaves behind an amazing legacy - the matriarch of a beautiful family in which she had much pride. We, her children, feel so very blessed to have had her as our mom. She was truly one of a kind.

Lois was preceded in death by her parents, John and Marie Unke; her sister, Beverly Spangelo; and her husband, Forrest Gray.

She is survived by her seven children, Gayle (Gary) Swenson, Forrest Jon (Barbara) Gray, Marjory (Kevin) Templeton, Patricia (Sean) Mayes, Lance (Cindy) Gray, Jeanne (Brent) Elert, and Kimberly (Danny) Thiede. She was blessed with 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Mom was special to all her family and she will be deeply missed.

A memorial service will take place in August at the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel, where she will be laid to rest next to her husband. Due to the pandemic, we are unable to offer an open invitation. We greatly appreciate all who have reached out to offer condolences.

Contributions in her memory may be sent to Fairview Hospice Metro at

Pine Knot News, July 24, 2020


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