Nellie Wise Gray

Nellie Wise Gray, 91, passed away peacefully at her much-loved home of 60 years in Newport News on April 14, 2024. She was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.

Nell was born October 3, 1932, to Bea and Walter Wise. She graduated from Newport News High School in 1950 and worked briefly at the Newport News Shipyard and for the U.S. Army. Most significantly, she met her husband-to-be, John Harold Gray, while both were Typhoons at NNHS, and they were married in 1952.

Nell and Harold had 65 years of a loving and blessed marriage. Her husband and the six wonderful children they raised together were her greatest joys. Nell loved to plan birthday parties, holiday celebrations, and vacations, making this her lifelong calling because it brought her family together. She was a woman of faith who was raised in and attended the Methodist Church. Nell also had friends she loved and cherished and who did so much to care for her. She loved animals, providing a home through the years to a steady stream of furry friends, both dogs and cats. Most recently, Sunny, her beloved cat, came into her life, and for over five years, they shared constant and loving companionship.

Nell is survived by her children John and Judi Gray of Roanoke, VA, Ellen and Marc Gilbert of Hoover, AL, Linda and Fred Melby of Richmond, VA, Kathy and Terry Bernardi of Yorktown, VA and Scott and Wendy Gray of Newport News, VA, along with eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her husband, John Harold Gray, who passed away in 2017, and her son, Michael Lawrence Gray, who passed away in 1988.

Visitation will be held at the Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA,  on Friday, April 19, between 6:00-7:00 p.m. A graveside memorial service will be held at Peninsula Memorial Park on 12750 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, on Saturday, April 20, at 11:00.

As all who knew her would agree, Nell loved gardening and flowers, getting so much pleasure from beautiful bouquets. So please remember her by sending flowers to the Peninsula Funeral Home if you would like to do so!

Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home.


  1. Anne and Leo Roseman

    A heartfelt tribute for a beautiful and caring Mom, and a dear friend. Leo and I will miss her, and may all your memories give you comfort.

  2. Anne Evans

    A beautiful story of a beautiful lady. Nell was my mentor of life. Nell and Harold raised a wonderful family together. They leave an amazing legacy of a loving family.

    • Kathy

      Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to mom Anne! She treasured the long and loving relationship the two of you had 💖

  3. June McPartland

    What a beautiful life story about a very strong, loving woman. I will be holding all of you in my heart in the days ahead.

  4. Louisa Slagle

    I am so deeply sorry to learn of your mom’s passing! Sending much love to you all during this difficult time. Love the picture of your parents who have been reunited!

    • Kathy

      Yes Louisa! That picture (from their 50th anniversary celebration) says it all. Together again and there’s joy in that for mom and all who love her 💖

  5. Juli Corbett

    I am saddened to hear of your mother’s passing. I’ve known Mrs. Gray for 15 years and didn’t become close to her until after your dad passed, when she took an active role in the property my company managed for them. Over the years she became an easy confidant, we had many conversations about her love of her children and grandchildren, gardening. When she spoke of family, I could see the love she had for you all. I am sorry for your family loss; she was a great woman and will be truly missed.

    • Kathy

      Thank you Juli – Mom spoke of you fondly and greatly appreciated the services your company provided her and Dad through the years ♥️

  6. Beth Powitz

    I met her only once when she attended a bridal shower at our house. She was one of the sweetest people I ever met and I will never forget her.

  7. John and Kimberly Tingen

    We were saddened to hear of Mrs. Gray’s passing. Knowing her for the past 6 or so years, through her property management, she was a very kind and sweet lady. She spoke so fondly of her family and during one of our conversations, offered advice for our young family – which we will never forget. What a lovely lady to know. She will surely be missed.

    • John Gray

      John and Kimberly, how right you are! I am missing my mother now and your kind thoughts provide sweet consolation. Thank you for being her friends. John

  8. Juanita Harper

    Miss Gray was my newspaper customer for 16 years but she was more than just my newspaper customer . She was a friend we would call each other once sometimes twice the month just to chit chat and check on each other. She will be sorely missed but she is at peace now and in the best hands possible. I will miss you my friend love Juanita Harper and my grandchildren Richie and Katie Express their sorrow and we’ll miss putting your paper right by your door.

    • John Gray

      Juanita, Richie, and Katie, mom spoke fondly and often of her relationship with you! Your chats meant so much to her. Even when she could read very little of the newspaper she continued the subscription to be sure she would stay in touch with you. And those of us who visited her sure appreciated the paper. Near the end she was so thankful you put the paper at her door, even if she could only see a few headlines. Thank you for being there for her for 16 years.

  9. Ilona &Family

    We are sending our condolences and love to all Mrs.Nellie family. We met Mrs. Nellie and Mr. Harold 19 years ago in Myrtle Beach, SC. I can’t express how grateful we are for becoming friends. I will miss long phone talks with my friend and she will always be in our hearts❤️

    • John Gray

      So nice to hear from you, Ilona and Family! Just passed my first Mother’s Day without mother, and memories like yours make it better. How improbable a friendship you two had: the age difference; being from different countries; and living so far apart. Yet your bond was so strong. Your last visit meant the world to her. I am laughing inside at her description of the wonderful meals you prepared for her then—so different from what she typically fixed herself, making them that much more enjoyable. Thank you all for being such special friends to her through the years! John

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