Greater Lewes Foundation honors Gary Wray

West Virginia native adopted First Town as his home
May 13, 2022

Dr. Gary Wray was posthumously honored April 30 for his incredible volunteerism and immense love for the community at the Greater Lewes Foundation’s annual meeting at the Lewes library. 

Wray, 78, died Feb. 3 after a short but courageous fight against cancer. Wray was born in West Virginia and relocated to the First State to attend school at the University of Delaware. His love for West Virginia never waned, though, as he was often attired in a West Virginia hat, T-shirt or sweatshirt. 

After more than 30 years in education in three school districts, including Cape Henlopen, he served as a Cape Henlopen school board member and president, and college professor. He was a founding member of the Fort Miles Historical Association, the Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation and the Lewes Junction Railroad & Bridge Association, as well as Sussex Academy charter school in Georgetown, where he helped write the charter to start the school and also served on the board until 2001.

“Gary had a focused, long-range vision that few people have,” said Joe Stewart, Greater Lewes Foundation board chair. “He was always ready to step forward with zeal, with grit and with energy to develop a project. Gary wanted everybody to be part of the project, and he also wanted everybody to be part of the vision.”

At the April 30 meeting, Cape Gazette Publisher Chris Rausch presented Wray’s daughters with a four-page memorial tribute that appeared in the paper’s Feb. 11 edition. After a short presentation from Delaware Division of Parks Director Ray Bivens, Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, and Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton, presented his daughters with a tribute from the Greater Lewes Foundation. Each also added a few words about the man they came to know well. 

“Individuals in Delaware can make such an amazing difference,” Bivens said. “And Gary is kind of the poster child.”

In the fall, Bivens presented Wray an award from the State Park Directors Association for his contributions toward preserving history. In addition to the Fort Miles museum, Wray was also an integral part of the efforts to relocate the historic railroad swing bridge to its new site off American Legion Road and the ongoing effort to acquire railroad cars for display next to the library to honor and highlight Lewes’ railroad history.

Smyk said Wray’s contributions will be felt for a very long time.

“The impact you have in life is what you can do for others,” he said. “This person served others, and in doing so, he will live in eternity. There are two times that someone passes away – in life and the last time their name is said. His name will live forever.” 


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