Minutes after his birth on July 26, 1941, Warren Allen Gray was nicknamed “Buck” by nurses in the hospital delivery room. His moniker stuck for 79 years.
Buck and his twin sister, Sharron, were one of two sets of twins, thanks to his parents, Walter and Gladys Gray (Friedman). He was the strong buck of a baby. Sharron was punier. The nurses nicknamed her Punky.
“It’s Buck, not Bucky,” he reminded people as he grew up. As an adult, Buck had a boisterous laugh that could frighten young children, even his own two sons when they were babies.
“You could hear his laugh from another room,” joked his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann (Gorincen) Gray. The couple began their life together at Indiana University in Bloomington. They married on February 27, 1965.
Buck was a car salesman for more than 50 years, owning Buck Gray’s Auto Sales in Valparaiso. He didn’t just sell vehicles. He also sold his affable disposition. “I don’t make money, I make friends,” he would often say. A sign posted in his office reflected his selling technique: “Good cars aren’t cheap and cheap cars aren’t good.”
“Buck truly liked people. He enjoyed being around them,” his wife recalled.
He also enjoyed his service days in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in San Antonio, Texas, at Kelly Air Force Base, where he made many lasting friendships that spanned his entire life. There, he also developed a taste for Mexican food and country music. Buck also enjoyed golfing, bowling, hunting, and fast- and slow-pitch softball.
Buck closed his car dealership in 2007, but he never permanently parked his high-octane personality. He was witty, funny, caring, loving and personable well into his later years. Even his last doctor was impressed by Buck’s wit, humor and charm.
“I’m getting better, and I’m gonna keep getting better,” Buck told his wife and his doctor.
He did, but it didn’t last.
On January 6, 2021, his wife and younger son, Douglas, paid him one final visit at Indiana University Health Hospital in Indianapolis.
“Hi hun, I’m here,” his wife told him.
Buck’s eyes looked into hers, and then locked onto hers. He did the same with his son. Buck knew they were there with him. Later that day, the U.S. Air Force veteran ascended to heaven. Buck was 79.
“I’m at peace because he’s at peace,” his wife said afterward.
Without a traditional funeral service, Mary Ann was comforted by an impromptu “wake over the phone” with her husband’s loved ones, friends, and old schoolmates. “Let's clink our glasses together in one final toast to ole Buck. It's what he would have wanted!” she told them.
A service will be held at a later time. Bartholomew Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Sign an online guestbook at www.bartholomewnewhard.com.
Buck was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Janette Stutzman, and his grandson, Walter Andrew Gray. Buck is survived by two children, William Gray of Virginia, and Douglas Gray of Portage; two sisters, Sharron Andorfer of Ohio, and Jacquelyn Berkey of Goshen, Indiana; and three grandchildren.
Buck leaves behind his beloved bride, who also called him Buck. Unless he was in trouble with her. Then she called him Warren.
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