W.B. 'Bernie' Gray, 79
Posted on June 7, 2021
W.B. 'Bernie' Gray
HUTSONVILLE — W.B. “Bernie” Gray, age 79, Hutsonville, died on May 29, 2021 at Arbor Rose in Robinson, after battling the multiple effects of Lewy body disease for more than 10 years.
Bernie was born in Vincennes, Indiana, on Jan. 15, 1942, the son of Clifford C. Gray and Eileen (Crawford) Gray, both of whom preceded him in death. He married Carol R. Abel on Sept. 8, 1962, in Bridgeport.
Bernie was a 1960 graduate of Bridgeport Township High School, where he was an All-State high school basketball selection and captain of his team, which finished second in the state championship to Marshall of Chicago in 1960, when the tournament was still a single class. He also played baseball, advancing to the state tourney in 1960, as well. After graduating from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1964, he accepted a position as a claims adjuster with State Farm Insurance Company in Mattoon, then worked for First National Bank in Bridgeport, before moving to Hutsonville in 1970 to manage the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Hutsonville. Bernie served as CEO, President and Chairman of the Farmers & Merchants Bank until his retirement, and continued as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors until his passing. He also served as the Village President (Mayor) of Hutsonville for 40 years, from 1973-2013, never accepting a salary and never afraid to personally contribute to keeping the Village clean by picking up trash and cans all over town.
He was a member and past Chairman of the Board of the United Methodist Church in Hutsonville; member and past President of the Hutsonville Chamber of Commerce; organizer and original member of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois; former board member of the Merom Institute; former member and director of the Crawford County Development Association; former board member of the LTC Foundation; recipient of the Robinson Business & Professional Women’s Employer of the Year Award in 2000; and a Crawford Memorial Hospital “50 in 50” honoree in 2011.
Bernie was an avid Larry Bird fan, following Bird and the ISU Sycamores to the Final Four at Salt Lake City in 1979. He was a fan of the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves, the Cardinals and the Cubs. He loved his career in banking, serving his community, spending time at the beach, family gatherings and sharing laughter with family and friends.
Bernie is survived by: his wife of more than 58 years, Carol Gray, Hutsonville; children, Tina (Bruce) Callaway, Hutsonville; Kim Gray, Hutsonville; Brett (Jennie) Gray, West York; and Brian (Jennifer) Gray, Hutsonville; grandchildren, Blake (Emma) Callaway, Robinson; Brooke Callaway, Hutsonville; Ian Faulkner, St. Louis, Missouri; Grace Gray and Alex Gray, West York; and Ava Gray, Hutsonville; a sister, Glenda (Roy) Ralston, Bloomington; brothers-in-law, Bill (Betsy) Abel, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and George (Charlene) Abel, Bridgeport; sisters-in-law, Ann Abel, Hutsonville; and Jacque Abel (Chris Robertson), Portland, Oregon; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Public visitation was held on Friday, June 4, 2021 at Pulliam Funeral Home in Hutsonville with Pastor Lynette Barnett officiating.
Private family burial was held at Bridgeport.
Memorials may be made to the Hutsonville Community Center Fund or to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (lbda.org) with envelopes available at the funeral home.
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