This week’s Face of Northeast, Bertram Gray, graduated from Central High School in 1961. He joined the Army after high school and was stationed at Fort Sill, Okla. for a year before serving as an engineer in Frankfurt, Germany until he left the Army in 1965.
He worked for TWA as an aircraft mechanic for 30 years. When TWA went out of business, he was offered a job by American Airlines where he stayed until he retired in 2005.
In 1993, Gray was living in the New Mark area of Kansas City North when he and a friend took a boat out on Smithville Lake. There, he met Linda, whom he fell head over heels for. She was living in Northeast so he moved in with her, and they got married a few years later.
“Linda and I are a mixed couple, so I really like the diversity of Northeast,” said Gray, who has now lived here for nearly 30 years.
Gray tells a story where, about 20 years ago, he and Linda decided to fly to Atlanta, Ga. to visit the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and hear Dr. Charles Stanley’s sermon. As a perk for working for the airlines, Gray had access to free or reduced airfare, and so this seemed like a fun way to spend a Sunday. After the church service, he and his wife, Linda, stopped at a diner, a popular franchise, to have breakfast. All of the employees and diners were black, but after twenty minutes of not being served, the couple realized that they were being intentionally ignored, and so they left.
“I still won’t set foot inside one of those restaurants,” Gray said, but he wanted readers to know that this was a real experience that he and his wife had.
Now, Gray spends his time exploring estate sales and auctions, looking for antiques and collectibles to sell on eBay. He and Linda have eight grand children and three great-grandchildren.
He also refers to himself as a “News Junkie” and a “Proud Northeast Democrat.” He enjoys flipping back and forth between what he calls “44” and “60,” (or “CNN” and “Fox News,” on the Spectrum dial.)
“Fox News stinks. I don’t like their news. Sometimes the things they say make me want to throw up,” Gray said, but then he added, “You’ve got to listen to what the other guys are saying. I’ll be first in line to vote when the polls open in November. I can’t wait.”