With great sadness, the College of Agricultural Sciences recognizes the passing of Sanford Lee Gray, who died Wednesday, July 22, 2020 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Gray is survived by Karlin, his wife of 55 years; his brother, John (Linda); his sister, Meredith (Gordon); sons Christopher (Christel) and John; daughter Heather (Matt); and five grandchildren.
“Everything that Lee touched, he made better,” remembers James Pritchett, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Easily recognizable because of his boundless optimism and deep baritone voice, Lee was a remarkable teacher and skilled leader. Notable was his unflinching integrity and universal compassion. His service extended from our CSU campus to the surrounding community where he is admired and revered.”
Gray was born in Marshalltown, Iowa. He attended and received two degrees from CSU, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1963 and a Master in Economics in 1965. He received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University.
Gray won the American Agricultural Association award for his dissertation and received the first funded research award for developing an input-output model for water use in Colorado. He began his career at CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 1969. He served as Associate Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 1983-1987 and became Chair in 1987. He spent 15 years in department administration, followed by two years as interim Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Throughout his career, Gray has been a teacher and an advisor known for his love of working with students. He won numerous accolades for his innovative and effective teaching, including the Pennock Award for Excellence in Teaching, WAEA Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Faculty Award for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
According to his family, Gray was an accomplished bass soloist. He sang roles in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Carmen, Faust, and The Magic Flute. He also appeared as a soloist with the Larimer Chorale, St. Luke’s Bach Festival, and the Fort Collins Chamber Chorale. He was also a very competitive handball player for several decades, was an Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins and passed along the gift of fly fishing to his family. Gray was an instant and compassionate friend to all, quick to share a warm handshake or hug. He was a loving husband and father and will be sorely missed.
In compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, a Celebration of Life for the family only will be held on Friday, July 31, 11:00am, at First Presbyterian Church. It will be streamed for friends to watch and hear from First Pres on the website https://firstpresfc.org/worship/live-streaming/.
To read the full obituary from the Gray family, visit here.