Gray Calvert Wakefield
September 12, 1920 – May 15, 2020
Gray Calvert Wakefield passed peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, the 15th of May 2020, at his home in Houston. He was 99 years of age. He was a wonderful, generous, hospitable, gracious, always learning, extremely intelligent, successful, and wise man to the very end! Today he is in heaven with His Savior, Jesus Christ, surrounded by angels and saints and other heavenly beings! We can only imagine!
He was born on the 12th of September 1920, in Charleston, Arkansas, to Sue Carroll Wakefield and Charles McKendrie Wakefield, and was preceded in death by Patricia Cosgrove Wakefield, his wife of 62 years, and his older brothers Carroll and Jerry Wakefield.
The most important things to know about Gray are the great legacy he left to his family and his dedication to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was affectionately referred to as “Pops.” Gray is survived by his four daughters and their families, Martha and Carroll Faulkner of Austin, Nancy Wakefield of Houston, Barbara and Mark Dinges of Houston, and Cathy and Bobby Wertheimer of Houston. Gray was loved and admired by his eleven grandchildren: Jennifer (Faulkner) and Collin Bartley of Nashville, Tennessee, James and Layne Faulkner of Dallas, Gray and Jenna Faulkner of Austin, Will Faulkner of Houston, Chad Lowrey of Dallas, Katherine (Lowrey) and Ross Murrell of Dallas, Caroline Dinges and her husband, Travis Reed of Carlsbad, California, Marshall Dinges and fiancé Rachel Stading of Houston, Chase Wertheimer and fiancé Kennedy Uptegraph, Blake Wertheimer and Cate Wertheimer of Houston. He was also blessed by six great-grandchildren, Caden, Caleb, Cole, and Coen Bartley of Nashville, Evelyn Murrell of Dallas, and the newest addition, Eliza Jane Faulkner of Austin. He is survived by his younger brother Nelson and his wife Betty Wakefield of Fort Smith, Arkansas; and many nieces and nephews.
Gray was born on a small family farm located on the outskirts of Charleston, Arkansas. During the Great Depression the family was forced from their farm and moved into town. At the age of 10, Gray fell ill to rheumatic fever and suffered significant heart damage. He was given a grim six-month prognosis and spent a year in bed that ultimately shaped his outlook on life for the next 90 years. Because of the illness, Gray became an avid reader and student at an early age. He graduated Valedictorian of his Charleston High School Class of 1938.
Despite his heart condition, Gray went on to honorably serve his country during World War II. On July 10, 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and was assigned to Sebring, Florida in the Finance Department. During Basic Training, Gray was promoted to attend engineering school at Washington & Lee University in Virginia. The engineering program was abruptly terminated in April 1944, and Gray was transferred back to Company A of the 90th Chemical Mortar Battalion. His troop was deployed to England and then to France where he fought courageously across Belgium and Germany eventually ending his European tour in Nuremberg, Germany. He was scheduled for transfer to the Pacific Theater, but with the bombing of Japan, the mortar company was disbanded, and Gray was honorably discharged at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas in December 1945.
After the war, Gray moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma and finished his college education at Oklahoma A&M University (now Oklahoma State University). In 1947, he received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he started a career with Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. While in Tulsa, Gray continued post-graduate studies at Tulsa University. In 1952, at the age of 32, Gray was transferred to Oklahoma City as Manager of the office. In 1955, he became the youngest managing partner of an office in PMM&Co.
While driving to the office in the fall of 1954, Gray narrowly missed a young lady who was crossing a crowded street in downtown Oklahoma City. The jaywalker was Patricia Cosgrove, a young and beautiful medical technologist from El Reno, OK. They began a whirlwind romance. Gray proposed to Pat on New Year’s Eve, and they were married on April 2, 1955, after tax season.
Gray was transferred to the Houston office of PMM&Co. where he served on the Board of Directors as Managing Partner of the Houston office and the Southwest Region of the U.S. and as Vice Chairman of the firm. He directed operations in the firm’s 20 offices in 8 southwestern states.
Gray was a servant leader and was passionately involved in the Houston community. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Houston Grand Opera Association, Chairman of the International Business Committee of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce, Finance Committee of the YMCA of Greater Houston, Accounting Advisory Committee of Rice University, Board of Trustees of the United Fund, Board of Directors of Junior Achievement, Advisory Committee for the College of Business at the University of Houston, President of Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers, Treasurer of the Zoological Society of Houston, appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce to the Regional Export and Expansion Council, Community Welfare Planning Association, President’s Commission on White House Fellows, and Board of Directors of the Combined Arts Corporate Campaign.
For the past 25 years, Gray personally and spiritually supported Urban Outreach (UOI) as a Board of Trustee’s member and as a mentor. He loved UOI and its ministries serving the spiritual, physical, educational and recreational needs of the under-served populations of Houston. Gray was a loyal supporter of all UOI's programs, especially the ones which teach youth character education in the schools and low-income apartment communities. He personally participated in these programs and helped guide youth to make the right life choices and better citizens. Gray was ever-present in assisting UOI through the good as well as the tough times and was always available whether the needs were material or spiritual. His faith in the UOI character development program carried over to his recommending it to similar YMCA programs. Urban Outreach will forever remember Gray as a great philanthropist and a devoted man of God.
Gray Wakefield, a treasured Life Board Member of the YMCA Greater Houston, was one of the YMCA’s longest serving Board Members and was extremely active though his 43 years of service. Gray was elected to the Association Board in 1977 and chaired the Association Annual Campaign from 1983-1984. Gray was the David Allen Award Winner in 1993; this premier award is the highest honor bestowed upon a volunteer.
Additionally, Gray was a champion for the YMCA Christian mission and values. He was very passionate about teaching character values to children in YMCA after school programs, so much so that he personally funded a character values program for many years through the Cossaboom YMCA’s after school programs on the east end of Houston. Likewise, Gray had a deep devotion for the YMCA Apartment Outreach Programs, a place the YMCA impacts under-served children and their families through after-school, summer day camp and year round educational enrichment programs which provides numerous children a safe place with positive mentors.
Gray and Pat attended Chapelwood United Methodist Church for 26 years where he served on numerous committees including Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Since 1986, Gray has been a member of Second Baptist Church and an active participant in the Gospel Truth Sunday School class. He was also a weekly breakfast participant of the Philosophical Intellectual Gentlemen’s Society (PIGS). He served as President of the Houston Regional Development Council of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board for two years. He served as President of the Jesus Film Project for Houston. Gray and Pat organized and led the Houston Family Association for fifteen years to support family values in Houston and The United States.
Gray’s family appreciates more than words can express the loving care that was given to him by his many caregivers from Texas Home Care Partners over the past few years. Thank you, Tammy Mills and your staff: Teresa, Ben, Frank, Edwin, Michael, Yolanda, Jeanetta, Yasmine, and Rita.
Gray blessed and changed the lives of everyone he met. His family was always first on his priority list. From annual Thanksgiving trips to Arkansas to visit the Wakefield clan, family vacations together, fishing at the lake house, and family holidays spent together at his home. We will miss you Pops and love you very much. Our lives have been enriched and blessed beyond measure by you and your example of a Christ-centered life well lived.
Serving as honorary pall bearers will be his grandchildren.
The family will gather for a private interment at half-past one o'clock in the afternoon on Thursday, the 21st of May, which will be streamed on Facebook Live at the following link:
To join, simply select the "Discussion" tab on the event at scheduled start time.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Gray’s name be directed to: Urban Outreach, Inc., The YMCA of Greater Houston, and/or to Second Baptist Church, Winning Walk. Direct links to their respective donation pages are provided below.
Facebook Live Streaming of Private Interment
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Gray Calvert Wakefield
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May 21, 2020
We will miss this great man of God. Mr. Wakefield produced the fruits of the Spirit especially kindness. When I was a senior in high school calling on one of his beautiful daughters, he met me at the door and brought me in to his house. He treated me as someone important even though he was the important one. He began teaching me about business. The state of New York had just gone bankrupt and he was telling me the implications that had on our country and the world. Since that first time I met him, he would greet me with that great, warm smile for forty plus years and genuinely , wanted to know what I was doing. Mr Wakefield was special, a great family man and a Lighthouse for Jesus. We will miss you! Condolences to his family, from Greg Pipkin and family
May 20, 2020
I joined PMM/KPMG from Scotland in 1964 and spent the first several years in the US and Latin America.. I first met Gray due to his interest in Latin American operations in the early 1970’s and his friendship was immediate. In 1976 he was instrumental in us moving to Houston to our international practice which was rapidly growing. This has been our beloved home ever since and i can’t thank Gray enough as he well knew how much he has been a positive factor, no a defining factor in our lives.
After we both retired we used to bump into each other at Lowes and talk about projects rather than accounting!
Gray thank you for all you did for us. God bless
May 20, 2020
I was Mr. Wakefield's Executive Secretary for 13 years (1965-1978). He was always the perfect gentleman whose forte was recruiting "the best" talent of accountants for the Firm. When he retired, I moved on to other positions at PMM&Co./KPMG for another 23 years. I have always referred to him as "MR" Wakefield because he was so worthy of respect in both his leadership and character.
At one time while purging files, I ran across a memo to him from the PMM&Co. Senior Partner (Mr. Black) chastising him for the long distance phone charges he made (both in recruiting and managing the offices in the SW Region.) I had to chuckle, but what a legacy he left!. He set the highest standards of excellence, and earned admiration and respect both personally and in his profession.
May 20, 2020
The Stuckey family extends our deepest sympathies to all the Wakefields. Gray was a man of deep faith, compassion and wisdom. We are all so grateful that he was part of our lives. God bless and keep you all.
David C Smith
May 19, 2020
We are so sorry to hear the passing of Gray. We remember moving to Houston and the gracious welcome of Pat and Gray. He was instrumental in making the firm first class in Houston. He continued to be a guiding hand long after he retired. He worked tirelessly to make the firm and the city of Houston a better place for all of us.
May 19, 2020
I was very fortunate to be one of the Caregivers to Mr.Gray Wakefield. He was one of a kind . Loved him from day one. God does work in mysterious ways. When I was sent to Mr.wakefield’s to be his caregiver, never in a Million years I could of knows he was some one that had gross my path many years ago. In talking on that first day at Gray’s home, he happened to mentioned the Church he attended many years ago. Chapelwood! You see, I worked at Chapelwood Church for over 32 yrs, Mr. Wakefield had a great memory. You see back in the 80s I have to say I was the only Man of Color that worked and attended Chapelwood, we both remembered each other once the conversation started , from that day on, we had so much to talked about, we became very good friends. Mr. Wakefield was a wonderful and kind man, I was the one who were supposed to be taking care of him, but he was always asking me if I was alright, can I do anything for you ? I met his whole family that in it self where an extra gift, they were always nice and friendly just as their dad. We have had many Conversations about Mr.wakefield’s Late Spouse, his eyes would light up when talking about her . Now he is in heaven with her and they are I’m sure having the best times. Rest In Peace my friend . One day we shall meet again. To the families of Mr. Gray Wakefield, my prayers and thoughts are with you all. Love
May 18, 2020
I joined Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. in 1977. Mr. Wakefield was the Regional Partner in Charge. I met Nancy Wakefield at PMM shortly thereafter and she has become a lifelong friend. My favorite memory was going to the KPMG partner legacy wall celebration in 2017 with Nancy and Mr. Wakefield. We all so enjoyed having him with us for this celebration. He was truly from the greatest generation and was a devoted leader and friend. I am proud to have been his partner. He was also a devoted husband and daddy to his children. He will be missed.
May 18, 2020
Kelly and I have had the pleasure of living across the street from the Wakefields for the last 20 years. What an impact Gray had on our neighborhood, the City of Houston and everyone else that he came in contact with during his life. He was an amazing gentleman that loved his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The extended Wakefield family is in our prayers.
May 18, 2020
Gray was a wonderful friend to me, who had a great sense of humor. Often, when I was out walking my dog, he delighted in driving up behind me in his big white Cadillac and making me jump out of my skin by blowing his horn (not a tap, mind you). Then, always a friendly greeting before driving on gleefully... It was one of the games we played. I miss him very much.
May 18, 2020
I began a thirty year career in public accounting after being hired by Gray Wakefield in 1962. Why did he hire me? He would always remind me that he needed a Baylor accounting graduate for the Houston office. I feared Gray, respected him, and admired him. Without his belief in me I would not today be in my twenty-second year with a great charitable medical research foundation. I last talked to Gray about twelve years ago and he was still that distinguished gentleman. Thank you Lord for Gray Wakefield.
May 18, 2020
I was in the Little Rock office for 9 years when Gray was the regional partner and was in charge of Houston. He closed the office in 1974 and transferred 2 of us to Houston where I became a partner in 1976. When he retired I did some work with him
I always cherished my love for Gray.
May 17, 2020
Gray was the PIC of the Houston office of PMM&CO when I joined the firm in 1965 fresh out of the MBA program at UT. He was an outstanding recruiter an leader and was an eloquent speaker. The audit staff referred to him as the "man with the golden tongue" but certainly not in his presence.
Under his leadership, he gave me every opportunity to succeed during my career at Peat. He was always the epitomy of a gracious gentleman. May he rest in peace. Love you man!
Matt Landry. PMM& Co 1965-1982.
May 17, 2020
My deepest sympathy to the family. Gray was a very special individual. I first met Gray in 1974 when I was a young professional with Peat Marwick in Fort Worth. Gray was the regional managing partner and made a very lasting impression. I got to know him well after transferring to Houston in 1979 and ultimately filling the regional role. Throughout the years Gray always supported me and provided advice (some solicited and some not solicited, but always very appropriate) even continuing to do so after I retired from the Firm. He was a giant figure in our Firm and in Houston. In all my years in business I never encountered a sharper mind, a more consummate professional, or a finer human being.