Saralee Gray

saralee-grayMy biological father was District Deputy Grand master for many years in northwestern North Carolina, and I grew up knowing that if anything happened to him, I would go to the Masonic Orphanage in Oxford.

In 1946, Daddy met the new Superintendent of the Orphanage, Mr. Gray, and extracted a promise from him to take care of my brother and me if anything happened to him.

In June of 1947, Daddy died, and my brother and I were admitted to the Orphanage in August.

At the Orphanage, I first worked in the dining room as a “little girl”, but was soon moved to the sewing room, where I was told that I excelled, especially considering my age. I continued there until I was in the 10th grade.

At that time, I was assigned to work in the main building. I acted as hostess for guests, did office cleaning, and ran errands for the administrative staff. In this role, I got to know the Grays on a more personal level.

As an 11th grader, I was assigned to work in the boys’ dining room. Dining room workers, by nature of their tasks, had a schedule that was more flexible than other assignments on campus.

Knowing I had experience with sewing, Mrs. Gray asked me to help her with some sewing during my free time. We established an immediate bond that was the beginning of a long-term relationship.

After graduating from JNS, the Grays acted as parents to me. Mr. Gray performed my wedding ceremony in 1965, and Mrs. Gray was mother of the bride. The Grays became “grandparents” to our two children.

SaraleeGrayYorkRitepaintingIn 1974, they made our relationship legal, by adopting me. (It was actually the grandchildren they wanted to be legally theirs!)

“Grand Sa” took lessons in painting in the 1950s. Of all the building projects Superintendent Gray oversaw during his administration, York Rite Chapel was the one he was most proud of, and Mrs. Gray painted the building as a gift to him. It seems appropriate to donate the Chapel painting to the museum.

Ruth Mauldin
July 2012