Deceased February 25, 2014

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50th Reunion book entry

In Memory

Dandridge M. "Dan" Gray of Portola Valley, Calif., died on Feb. 24, 2014, at the age of 93 after a long illness. Born in Farmington, Conn., Dan and his older brother, Hugh '37, who also went to Amherst, grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., and enjoyed spending summers on Squirrel Island, Maine. After graduation from Bronxville High School, he attended Deerfield Academy for one year before entering Amherst.

At Amherst Dan majored in history, belonged to Psi U and played soccer and tennis for four years. As captain of the tennis team in his senior year, he took on the dual role of coach after the regular coach left suddenly for military service. He played competitive and recreational tennis throughout his life and was admired for his graceful strokes.

Dan served four years in the navy as a lieutenant on the destroyer USS Lang, seeing much action in the Pacific theater.

After the war, while traveling with friend and fellow alum, Alex Alexander '42, he met his future wife, Joan Sharbough (Smith College '46) at Mont Tremblant, in Québec, Canada. They married in 1948 in Larchmont, N.Y.

Dan began his career in life insurance on the East Coast, then in California turned to investments, forming his own company with partner Gunny Ammonette and later working for other firms. He retired at age 89.

Dan was senior warden and treasurer of his church, president and treasurer of his tennis club and helped feed the homeless in the community for many years. He also served as class agent for many years, raising money for Amherst.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, of nearly 66 years, two children and a nephew and their respective families. He was predeceased by his second son. Dan is loved and remembered by family, friends and associates for his easygoing manner and strength of character, Amherst attributes, no doubt!

John and Georgette Gray


Dan Gray died on Feb. 25, 2014, in Portola Valley, Calif., a few miles south of San Francisco.

Dan came to Amherst from Bronxville, N.Y. He joined Psi U and played freshman and varsity soccer, but it was in tennis that he really shown. He and I were doubles partners throughout college, with Dan playing one position ahead of me in singles and serving as captain of the team his senior year. He served as business manager of the Olio and was a member of the Sphinx Junior Honorary Society.

Upon graduation, Dan joined the navy and spent nearly four years in the Pacific. This, according to Dan, consisted of “thousands of hours of boredom” plus “combat, with all its terror, excitement, crises and tensions.”

Upon release from active duty in 1946, Dan married Joan Sharbough (Smith ’46). Over the years they had three children, John, Stuart and Allison.

In business Dan had two careers. His first was working on the East Coast for the Guardian Life Insurance Company in sales and then management. A stint in New York City followed by a very enjoyable seven-year period in Providence, R.I., during which Dan served as president of the local junior chamber of commerce. After two years in Boston, Dan and Joan decided in 1960 they needed a change of scenery, so they moved to Menlo Park, Calif., where Dan worked as a regional manager for the Colonial Life Insurance Company.

The business was not successful, and Dan was laid off. After the worst five months of his life, Dan started his second career, opening his financial management office in San Francisco. This was a success, and he continued to work there for more than 30 years, giving an interesting talk on his work at our 50th Reunion in 1992.

Unfortunately, Dan spent the last few years of his life as an invalid in the rehab section of the retirement community in which Joan had a condo.

Ted Heisler ‘42

50th Reunion

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Starting Freshman year with a hurricane and graduating into a World War was not exactly the way we planned our lives. However, we did learn about life and that paid dividends for all of us. Certainly my duty in the Navy for almost four years in the Pacific was a learning experience, and an experience that I often look back on. Like the four years at Amherst, the four years in the service were an important part of my life. Combat, with all its terror, excitement, crises, and tensions, all accompanied by thousands of hours of boredom, has a way of molding young people.

After the War, I married Joan Sharbough, Smith ’46, and ended up in the life insurance business 0 in sales and management. I got to know the New York City subway system very well. I transferred to Providence, and loved the entire seven years in Rhode Island. By this time two children (John and Stuart) were under foot and we were happy with a fascinating old house, many friends and activities. I also had the good fortune to become President of the Providence Junior Chamber of Commerce another learning experience.

 Boston (lived in Wellesley) was our next port of call, but only for two years. Still with Guardian Life, but in a slightly different management capacity.

Joanie and I yearned, however, for the "wide open spaces “of California, and when the opportunity came we moved to the San Francisco area (lived in Menlo Park). The "spaces” turned out not to be very "wide," but we've loved it anyway, and live in the same house we bought in 1960. That year Allison was born. Crossing the country with Joanie, 2 1/2 kids, a new job, new home, and new part of the world, and knowing nobody was quite an adventure... but well worth it. I joined Colonial Life which had merged with Chubb & Son, and I was to head up on the West Coast what seemed like an exciting new program. However, the program failed nationally, and along with 10 other regional managers, I was laid off. It was a jolt and the worst five months of my life followed - trying to decide where next.

We set a new course by creating and establishing my own firm in 1963 (in San Francisco) to represent the consumer by helping him make the necessary decisions in handling his personal finances. It was called the "Financial Planning Center," which has since become a well-used, and often misused, phrase.

I am still doing financial planning, loving it, and don't want to retire. Joanie is busy with music, drama, tap dancing, and helping international students at Stanford. I’m careful to leave enough time to mix golf, tennis, swimming, volunteer and church activities with the business.

So now we are ready for the big 50th this spring.

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