Contributed Jan 2005
by Elizabeth Claire Moore

Times Daily October 3, 1989
Area's oldest resident dead at age 108

Killen, The funeral for Tela Gray 108, the oldest known resident of the Shoals and the oldest Alabamians, will be at 1:30 p.m. today at Loretto Memorial Chapel, Loretto, Tenn, with Jerry Taylor , Jerry Herston and James E. Smith officating. Burial will be in Richardson's Chapel Cemetery.

She died Sunday Oct. 1, 1989 at Lauderdale Christan Nursing Home after an extended illness.

A native of Lauderdale County, Tela Gray was born Nov. 30 1880 and spent her life as a homemaker and farm wife. In recent years, her birthday was always a big occasion, and in 1987 she was congratulated by Gov. Guy Hunt as an Alabama Centenarian.

She wore glasses and a hearing aid, and used to sew cushions for friends until her vision prevented her from continuing her hobby. Although her health had taken a downward turn in recent months, her youngest child, Minton Gray, said she was alert through her final days.

"The last time I saw her on Friday, she knew who I was, " He said Monday. "It's just remarkable she kept her mind that long."

In her lifetime, Gray saw the advent of the automobile, electric power, telephones, radio, television and airplanes. She survived six generations of her family, and gave credit to the Lord for allowing her to live so long.

"I've worked hard all my life, " Gray told the TimesDaily in a 1986 interview, on her 106th birthday. "I used to have to go to the creek and wash. I've helped my husband saw logs and chop wood.

"People have it so much better now, without working so hard" she said. " But folks were happier back then."

Gray, the daughter of [a] Civil War veteran, grew up in a house at Richardson's Chapel and recalled getting water from a well outside. Her parents were Daniel and Hannah Springer.
[ NOTE Daniel KILLEN and Hannah Springer, but the article is typed as written.]

At age 16, she married Mint Gray and had 10 children, six of whom are still living and range in age from 63 to 87. Her husband died in 1958.

"I never lost a little one," she said during the interview three years ago. " I always asked the Lord to let me keep my little fellows."

She was a member of Green's Chapel United Methodist Church.

Survivors include her sons, Pat Gray of St. Joseph, Tenn, Macon Gray of Lexington, Hollis Gray of Russville and Minton Gray of Greenhill; daughters, Frankie McLaughlin of Greenhill, and mamie Lee Glover of Lexington; 34 grand-children; 57 great-grandchildren; 32 great-great-grandchildren; six great-great-great-grandchildren, and one foster grandchild.

Bearers will be Charles Gray, Gilbert Gray, Billy Gray, Rex Gray, Darrell Glover, Randy Gruber.

Return to Individual Obituaries