I, Catherine Marcell Clark Gray, lovingly known as “Mama Cat”, was born on April 21st, 1925. I was the seventh child of Johnnie and Lola Ines Brown Clark.
I began my school education at the age of seven years old at Howard Junior High School in Prosperity, SC. At Howard Junior High, I participated in numerous school plays, and was also a basketball player for the “Red Cardinals. I graduated from Howard Junior High as Valedictorian of the class of 1942, under the principalship of Professor Keith.
After graduating from Howard Junior High, my parents sent me to Drayton Street High School in Newberry, SC, which was seven miles away. I, along with a few more girls, would ride the Greyhound Bus on Monday mornings and come back home the following Friday on the train. While away from home we lived with Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Gallman for six months until they moved to Philadelphia, PA. At this time, we moved and lived with Mrs. Lelia Wilson on Caldwell Street in Newberry, SC. They charged us 50 cents a week to room, but we had to prepare our own meals. It was understood that when we finished Howard Junior High, and go to Drayton Street, we had to repeat the 10th grade because Howard Junior did not go but seven months and Drayton went nine months. I had to go to Drayton Street for two years and graduated on June 2, 1944, under the principalship of Professor Gladden.
Nine months after graduating, I was joined in holy matrimony to Joseph C Gray, Sr., on February 4, 1945. To this union was born five children. I am thankful to say that this marriage lasted for sixty-five years.
I joined Antioch Baptist Church at the age of fourteen years old under the pastorship of Reverend M.S. Shepherd. At Antioch, I was a Sunday school student and later became a Sunday school teacher. I participated in many programs and sang on the youth choir, which was under the direction of Mrs. May Alice Brown Gamble.
Today, at the time I am writing this, I am still a church worker. I am proud to say I have been the President of the Missionary Society at Antioch Baptist Church for over forty years and secretary of the Usher Board from 1976 to 2018. I have held the title of “Mother of the Church” for forty-seven years, a member of the Pulpit Aid and former chairperson for various committees and programs. I was the former advisor and leader of the Antioch Baptist Cradle Role Choir for thirty years, treasurer of the New Enoree Association Women’s Missionary for twenty-three years until 2019, secretary of the Howard Junior High School Restoration Center Board until 2019, former Girl Scout Leader (Junior Scouts) for thirteen years, organizer for the Veteran Memorial Service at Shiloh A.M.E Church and Antioch Baptist Church, member of Woman’s Home Aid Society, member of Shiloh A.M.E. Church Gospel Choir alongside my husband, and Grand Marshall in the 2017 Town of Prosperity Christmas parade. Whatever I am called to do, I do it willingly. I love my family, my church, but most of all I love God, who is the head of my life.
I was predeceased by my parents, Johnnie (Lola) Clark; sisters, Mary Emma Clark-McNary, Jennie Ruth Clark Ruff Swittenburg and Frances Clark-Gallman; brothers, J.C. Clark, Rogers Clark, Curtis Clark and John Albert Clark; husband of sixty-five years, Joseph Calhoun Gray, Sr.; and sons, Joseph Calhoun Gray, Jr., and David Earl Gray; and one son-in-law, Eugene Samuel.
I leave behind to cherish our many memories; two sons, Kenneth Lee Gray (Jannita) and Johnnie William Gray (Brunell); one daughter, Catherine Ann Gray-Samuel; one brother, Ernest Clark; daughter-in-law, Earline Gray; sixteen grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The family will receive friends at the home of her daughter, Catherine Ann Gray Samuel (415 Shiloh Street, Prosperity, SC).
Funeral services will be conducted 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Antioch Baptist Church, 236 Rikard School Road, Prosperity, SC. (viewing one hour prior to the service). Burial will follow in Shiloh A.M.E. Church Cemetery, 431 Shiloh Street, Prosperity, SC.
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