John William “Johnnie” Gray, Jr., worked for the Southern Railway for thirty-nine years, retiring in 1982. Railroad jobs were among the best open to African Americans in the era before the Civil Rights Movement. “He had a special way of reaching people with his magnetic personality, said his funeral program. “From his birth on December 15, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, until his death on March 16, 1992, John Gray was happy. He enjoyed life to its fullest. He shared his happiness with everyone he met.” That included serving Memorial Presbyterian Church as Trustee, Deacon and Elder of Session, volunteering with the Jack & Jills Club (the national organization for African American youth) or socializing around the card table with the Bridgeteers Club.
Ophelia “Kitty” Carson Gray (4.3.1910 – 12.30.2000), grew up in Tryon, North Carolina, with five brothers and five sisters. She taught for forty-seven years in Charlotte-area public schools, retiring in 1975. Like her husband, she loved music and community activity and was known, her funeral program noted, for the “opening of her home to shelter college students and other young adults who were trying to make a start in life.”
The couple raised son Ronald Gray, who became a physician in Baltimore.
Ranch style house, one-story in red brick, located on a prominent corner lot. The main block of the house has a low hip roof. A hip-roofed wing projects at the front, notched out to create a front porch. Note the wide front windows which add to the feeling of horizontality in the design, a characteristic of the Ranch style popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1962 the original owner added a carport and patio to the west side of the house, which were later enclosed to create more living space. In 2017 this west wing was demolished and the rest of the house was extensively renovated.
Date issued: March 15, 1955
Other permit info: Wiring, probably for original construction of the house
Date issued: August 28, 1962
Estimated cost: $700
Other permit info: Addition of carport and patio
Date issued: July 17, 1962
Owner: John Gray, Jr.
Contractor: Southern Patio Company
Estimated cost: $770
Other permit info: Patio cover
Date issued: August 9, 1962
Owner: John Gray, Jr.
Contractor: P.D. West
Estimated cost: $2150
Other permit info: repair fire damage and add 4 feet to utility room
First appeared in city directory
1956 – John W. Gray & Ophelia C.
He: Waiter, Southern Ry. She: Teacher, Fairview School
1961 – John W. Gray, Jr. & Ophelia C.
He: No occupation listed. She: Teacher, Hutchinson Sch.
1981 – John W. Gray, Jr., still listed
Gray, J.W., funeral program in the History Room, First United Presbyterian Church, Charlotte.
Gray, Ophelia, funeral program in the History Room, First United Presbyterian Church, Charlotte.