OBITUARY

Robyn Emily Gray B.A. (Hons), M.L.I.S.

18 January, 199129 January, 2022

Robyn passed away in Calgary on January 29, 2022, at the age of 31 years, after a courageous year-long battle with brain cancer.

Robyn was born on January 18, 1991, in Calgary, Alberta. From an early age she showed an aptitude for music, having the innate ability to pick out, on almost any instrument, a melody she had heard, regardless of how complex. She played clarinet, oboe, bass guitar and stand-up bass while in junior high and high school in music programs; she had five years of piano lessons, and taught herself to play the ukulele. But the musical love which she pursued and which brought her so many years of enjoyment was playing bagpipes. She got her first practice chanter at the age of 6, and immediately started playing melodies on it by ear. By the time she was 8, she was playing complex pipe tunes on her chanter, and she moved on to a full set of bagpipes when she was 11.

Robyn started attending bagpipe music camps long before she could play pipes. She attended the Gaelic College in Cape Breton for a number of summer sessions, learning to play fiddle, to step dance, and to weave. She also travelled with her parents to Missoula, Montana, a number of times to attend the Celtic Dragon Pipe Band’s camps, where she spent some time learning pipe band style snare drumming. After she started working on pipes, she attended the Highland Musical Arts camp in Washington State and also the Coeur d’Alene Summer School of Piping and Drumming in Idaho, both for many summers, making life-long friends and solidifying her love of all things and all people piping and pipe band related.

She joined the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band (Calgary) at the age of 12, and spent almost a decade performing and competing with them. She also enjoyed a very successful solo piping competition career. While still playing in the amateur grades, she travelled to Scotland and competed very successfully in the junior events, and then a few years later in the Grade 1 CLASP events in Glasgow. She also had a great deal of success competing in the local solo events at the open/professional level, winning the Alberta Society of Pipers & Drummers piobaireachd aggregate a number of times. She was a fabulous competitor not only in terms of her musical skill, but also on a personal and social level, well-known for enjoying the camaraderie of the Highland games as much, if not more, than playing the music.

She played in a number of other pipe bands once she became an adult, competing with the New Westminster Police Pipe Band for two seasons while she was attending university in British Columbia, and with the Viscount Park Pipe Band out of Edmonton for a number of years. She played with the Hamilton Police Pipe Band (Ontario) in 2017 and 2018, competing with them at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in 2017. She competed at the North American Pipe Band Championships numerous times, not only with the Hamilton Police Pipe Band but also with Rocky Mountain and Viscount Park during the course of her pipe band career.

Only a few months before Covid hit, she had joined the Portland Metro Pipe Band (Oregon), and attended two weekend-long practices with them, enjoying reuniting and playing with friends she had met at the Highland Musical Arts camp. That band was planning to play in grade 2 at the World Pipe Band Championships in 2020; but unfortunately Covid shut down the pipe band competition circuit for that entire season.

Robyn attended Wildwood Elementary School, Vincent Massey Junior High School, and Ernest Manning High School, all in Calgary. She excelled academically, and was very active in the school music programs while in junior high and high school, earning numerous academic and music-related awards.

She graduated from high school in 2009, and that fall she moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to attend the University of Victoria. She enjoyed her time in that city, living for two years in on-campus housing and for two years off-campus with roommates, all of whom became her close friends, and with whom she kept in touch for more than a decade. She earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in the spring of 2013, and then moved to Berlin, Germany, where she worked for a year as an assistant English teacher. She also became fluent in German while living in Berlin.

Robyn’s other love was books. She was read to from the day she was born, and that love of reading stayed with her forever. She loved all things book-related, developing an interest in public and academic libraries during her time at UVic, and nurturing that love by visiting as many libraries in European countries as she was able during the year she spent in Berlin. While living in Germany, she made the decision to further her education, and was accepted into the Master of Library and Information Studies graduate degree program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which she started in the fall of 2014.

Living in Halifax enabled her to forge stronger bonds with her many relatives in Nova Scotia - her grandparents Lloyd and Ainsley Robinson in Bridgetown, her grandmother Elizabeth Ferguson in Avondale, her uncle and aunt Gord and Cathy Robinson and her three cousins Fraser, James, and David, in Truro, and numerous other relatives spanning three generations. She lived in an apartment with a highland dancer while studying at Dalhousie - yet another friend with whom she stayed in close touch.

Robyn earned her MLIS degree from Dalhousie in 2016, and immediately started a job in her chosen field in Elk Point, Alberta. She moved to Camrose, Alberta, in late fall of 2017, again with a job in her field. While living in Camrose she became involved with the Rotary Club, and thoroughly enjoyed her association with and volunteering on projects for this organization. She attended the Daybreak club’s early morning meetings regularly, in-person while she was able, and later via Zoom. She was also an active volunteer for the Greater Edmonton Library Association’s Prison Library Project, an organization which provides library resources and programs to correctional facilities in the Edmonton area.

The last stage of Robyn’s career was as the Director of the Public Library in Camrose, a job which she started in January of 2019, but from which she was forced to take long-term disability leave in the spring of 2021 due to her devastating cancer diagnosis and its cruel manifestations.

Everyone who crossed her path loved Robyn. Expressions of love and support flowed in from around the globe once the news of her diagnosis became widely known. She is described by all who knew her as having a beautiful smile, bright eyes, and an authentic personality which lit up every gathering. She had a clarity of purpose, a genuine enthusiasm for everything she did, and a determination to achieve the goals which she set for herself. She was an all-round wonderful person who shared her happiness and joy of living with everyone she encountered. From a very early age, she had the ability to converse with people of all ages - from her great-grandfather in his nineties to children of her own age. She had an innate desire to fix situations – if someone seemed sad, she tried to inject cheer. If someone had a scrape or cut, she would apply the band-aid. She had an incredibly close bond with both of her parents, and genuinely enjoyed spending time and going on trips and holidays with either or both of them. Social media was a wonderful tool for Robyn, and she always “liked” and made positive comments on other people’s photos and posts. She was an avid collector - of small crystal figurines, of books, of Disney ornaments and mugs - and she loved to have photos of all of her friends and family members made into prints and displayed in collage frames throughout her home.

Robyn loved going on band trips, she loved her family, she loved camping trips to Lake Koocanusa, she loved to dance, she loved Disneyland, she loved Christmas, she loved chatting, she loved having people visit her, she loved all animals, she loved warm wool sweaters, she loved knitting and knitting clubs, she loved eating small portions of food out of cleverly-designed containers.

Robyn is survived by her parents, Gordon Gray and Ann Gray; by her grandmothers Elizabeth Ferguson and Ainsley Robinson; by her uncle and aunt Gord and Cathy Robinson and her cousins Fraser Robinson, James Robinson, and David Robinson; by her uncle and aunt Scott and Marie Gray and cousins Jocelyn Gray and Paul Gray; and by extended family members in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, California, and Scotland, with all of whom she loved spending time.

A celebration of Robyn’s life will be held in Calgary as soon as it is possible to gather large in-person group.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Daybreak Rotary Club in Camrose at http://www.camroserotary.com/robyn-gray-memorial-donation.html e-transfer to camrosedaybreaktreasurer@gmail.com, noting the name and address of the donor. Tax receipts can be provided. All donations made will go directly to providing books for children from newborn to five years of age in Camrose every month, to encourage literacy and family reading time.

Donations may also be made to the Rotary International Foundation, which provides funding for projects around the globe, and donations can be directed to specific areas of focus, such as literacy. An online portal for donations is available on the Foundation’s website at Rotary.org.

Donations may of course also be made to your favourite charity.

“Though the pipes have fallen silent, her music will forever live on Mountains will stand tall and true, the ocean will sing her song And in the forests and fields and over gently rolling hills The sounds of her laughter echo...still” - Gord Robinson

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RECEIVE UPDATES
  • Robyn in a very small village of Germany, playing at the "Schützenfest"

    Kirsten Endrikat

    Friend
    02/22/2022

    During a family event, Robyn was playing at the "Schützenfest", thats fair featuring shooting matches, in a small village of Germany. It was really a feature for all, to listen to her!

  • Robyn in front with the double bass in our orchestra

    Kirsten Endrikat

    Friend
    02/22/2022

    When Robyn spent her year as assistant teacher in Berlin, we played together in my orchestra. It was a great time for all of. She always planed to come back once. We will really miss her!

  • Heather & Lou Clark

    Family
    02/19/2022

    Dear Ann and Gord, Lou and I along with our family send our most heartfelt condolences to both of you. We are so very grateful for the opportunities to visit with you and Robyn over the years, whether it was N.S. or on your many visits to California taking her to Disneyland! We loved it when we'd have the chance to meet you there. Robyn's eyes were always bright as could be and her smile lit up the room! She was in her element - on vacation having fun and loving life! We treasure memories of Robyn from the time she was a little girl up until her last trip to what is often described as "The Happiest Place on Earth" in Sept. 2019 - which she described to me as "perfect". Family relationships are so important and we truly appreciate you sharing your beautiful daughter with us. She had it all - she was beautiful, intelligent, super talented, kind, funny and was loved beyond what words can describe. May the memories you hold close to heart bring you comfort and know you both gave her a wonderful life full of love. We will always remember her sparkling eyes and smiles that lit all of us up with joy. With our deepest sympathy, Heather, Lou, Lindsay & Ryne, and James.

  • Emma Greer

    02/16/2022

    Robyn was always smiling and laughing. She brightened up any room she was in. I have known Robyn since 2006 and was truly blessed with her friendship. I will cherish our memories forever.

  • Jeff Dickie

    Friend
    02/15/2022

    My heart goes out to all those who now mourn Robyn's passing. I especially want to extend my deepest sympathy to her parents Gord and Ann. Robyn touched so many in her short time here and will be remembered by me for her smile and genuine nature along with her intelligent and whitty conversation. She really was a special person and will be missed by everyone that knew her. RIP Robyn

  • Lynette Edison

    Friend
    02/11/2022

    Robyn and I shared a love of all animals. She had such a sweet, kind heart, laughing eyes and a smile that could light up the universe. Miss you and love you forever.

  • Robyn and I at a Halifax Celtic Fest performance in 2015.

    Madeleine Waddington

    Friend
    02/10/2022

    Robyn and I met by chance when I saw her ad on a student housing board and let her know I was looking for a roommate. Little did I know when she agreed to be my roommate during her years in Halifax that we would become such great friends. I also loved the coincidence that she was a piper and I was a highland dancer. This is my favourite photo of the two of us together and the only time I got to dance to Robyn’s piping… one of my favourite dance performances. Not only was she an incredibly talented musician but an excellent baker. I will always remember the vegan Oreo cheesecake she made for my 25th birthday… so yummy and no one could believe it was vegan! Just a few of my favourite memories with Robyn… there are too many the count. She was an incredible friend and she will be greatly missed. My condolences to all her family and friends.

  • Dr. Gail H. Forsythe

    Colleague
    02/08/2022

    To all of Robyn's family and friends, please accept my sincere condolences. Her passing is a very sad loss to her family, the community and to those who knew and loved her so well. Ann Gray's pride in Robyn's achievements shone in every conversation about Robyn. It is so hard to believe that such a bright soul, and person of such achievement, has departed from our world. May you always recall her passion for music, and her memory, with comfort, pride and love.

  • Robyn at a Seanachie rehearsal, 1994 or 1995.

    Ann Gray

    Family
    02/08/2022

    For a number of years, I played in a Celtic folk group called Seanachie. Our rehearsals were held in the basement of our home in Ramsay for a number of years, and Robyn absolutely loved it when she was allowed to “join in”. This photo would have been taken in late 1994 or early 1995.

  • Tess Grynoch & Adam Kuang

    Friend
    02/06/2022

    Robyn and I (Tess) were part of the same MLIS class at Dalhousie. Both of us were Alberta girls far from home so we were able to set any Edmonton/Calgary rivalry aside. I feel blessed that we became friends during our studies, graduated from the same class together, and remained friends while pursuing our careers on opposite sides of the continent and across an international border. She made life in Halifax so much more fun and Adam and I were fortunate to have her as part of our wedding party. She helped teach me to knit, bake vegan cupcakes, and become a better writer. One could not ask for a better friend, colleague, and partner in crime. She will be greatly missed.

  • Kat Felix-Collette

    Friend
    02/06/2022

    Robyn was always quick to lend a hand at a book sale or bake sale and was always up for a trip to the cafe or pub. She could brighten up even the most stressful grad school situations.

  • Kat Felix-Collette

    Friend
    02/06/2022

    Remembering the most positive and bubbly classmate of our MLIS cohort

  • gordon gray

    Family
    02/06/2022

    It was very special for me to be able to play alongside Robyn in the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band for several years. Robyn added fun and energy to all our band functions. She was a positive force and a great band-mate.

  • gordon gray

    Family
    02/06/2022

    Robyn was always kind and gentle with animals, and she was well loved by her pets.

  • Isobel & Andrew Mackay

    Friend
    02/06/2022

    We have known Robyn since moving from Scotland in 2006. As a family we were truly blessed to have known such a wonderful person. She always had a kind word for everyone and a beautiful smile to go along with it. We watched her grow into a young adult, who had so much to offer, her talents were many. We will never forget all the fun times we spent together. I myself am honoured to have been able to call her my friend. Our deepest sympathies to Ann & Gord. Cherished memories.

  • Glenn Norrie

    Friend
    02/05/2022

    I met Robyn when she was about 8 years old when I started taking bagpipe lessons from Gord at their house. Often when I rang the doorbell Robyn would answer and always had a big smile and warm hello. I always thought she must dread seeing me showing up with my bagpipes but she never seemed to mind and was always happy and cheerful and friendly. Gord and Ann you raised a wonderful daughter. As she got older and had moved away, we would still see her at some birthday parties, Christmas parties, summer barbeques and Robyn always had time to visit with everyone and make us all feel welcome. She was always cheerful, kind, friendly and polite. This is so tragic and we are so sorry for your loss Gord and Ann. Our sincere condolences. Glenn, Jill, Steph and Kim.

  • Robyn, myself and Allison K at Ryan and Emma MacKay’s wedding.

    Judy and Frank Neelands

    Friend
    02/05/2022

    We’ve known Robyn since she was born. Never without a smile on her face, Robyn could interact with anyone regardless of their age or their station in life. She accomplished so very much in 31 short years but was so humble about her achievements. To Ann and Gord our sincerest sympathies. Heaven got the best angel ever on January 29.

  • At Patricia and Steve Pridgeon’s wedding, Vancouver Island BC, September 2020

    Ann Gray

    Family
    02/05/2022

    This is one of my favourite recent photos of Robyn. It was taken at her friend Patricia‘s wedding in September 2020 on Vancouver Island. She and I took a road trip to go to that wedding together, stopping along the way in Revelstoke, at the Enchanted Forest, at the Dutchman dairy for ice cream, in Penticton, and then spending two nights in Victoria before doing the drive back to Calgary again. I was so thrilled to be able to take that road trip with her, considering it was right in the throes of the Covid pandemic, albeit during one of the brief respite periods between the first and second waves.

  • Robyn and Marina in Mölln, Germany - Summer 2012

    Marina Best

    Friend
    02/05/2022

    I met Robyn at the University of Victoria, where our interest in German and Germanic studies enabled our paths to cross. During our studies, Robyn became a good friend and person I looked up to. Her positive attitude and kindness drew so many people towards her and therefore I know I am very lucky to have had so much time sharing laughs, dancing, and singing with her. The photo I chose is when Robyn came to visit me during the summer of 2012 in Germany. I am grateful to have these memories - and it is not a surprise to see that Robyn touched so many peoples’ lives in such a positive and inspiring way. I know that wherever Robyn is, she is continuing to inspire others and make people smile.

  • Ann Gray

    Family
    02/05/2022

    This is another of Ryan MacDonald’s images captured of Robyn at Krista and Daryl’s wedding.

  • Ann Gray

    Family
    02/05/2022

    Robyn loved to dance. Our friends Krista and Daryl were married in June of 2013 in Whistler, BC. The timing of their wedding coincided perfectly with Robyn’s convocation ceremony at UVic, where she was awarded her BA (Hons) degree, and we were thrilled to be able to attend both events. Ryan MacDonald was the photographer at the wedding, and managed to capture Robyn’s spirit in a number of photographs, which she has been kind enough to share.

  • Ann Gray

    Family
    02/05/2022

    Robyn and I played in a number of pipe bands together throughout the years. It was a thrill for me to be able to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships twice while in a band with her. The photo was from 2017, when we were both playing with the Hamilton Police Pipe Band (Ontario).

  • BRSD❤️

    BRSD Coworkers

    Colleague
    02/05/2022

    Robyn will always be remembered by her coworkers and fans at BRSD

  • Muriel Davidson

    Friend
    02/05/2022

    The last thing Robyn said to me was "thank you".

  • Breanne Steele

    Friend
    02/05/2022

    When I first met Robyn in the 2nd or 3rd grade, I didn't think we would get along as we were such opposites. Myself, a shy, quiet girl afraid to open up, and Robyn, a people person full of energy, who was not at all quiet. It was when we were paired together for a school project that our friendship bloomed. We soon realized that we made the perfect pair. We would take the bus to and from school everyday (I would almost miss my stop if Robyn wasn't there as she always kept me awake). We had sleepovers that would last all weekend. With only living a block away from eachother, our friendship grew into family. Even though I have a sister, Robyn and I would pretend we were from the same family and would even dress alike sometimes. She has made my life full of happiness and love and for that I am grateful. Robyn, my love, my sister, I will carry you in my heart always and forever. ❤

  • 02/01/2022

    From the Family