Dr. Raymond L. Gray, who practiced dentistry in Baltimore for close to 40 years and was a partner in the Madison Park Medical Center, died Sunday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia of complications from a stroke. He was 88.
"Ray was a people person and an excellent dentist. He was meticulous," said Dr. M. Guy Bragg, who practiced dentistry with his brother-in-law for 38 years before retiring in 2007.
"I learned a great deal from him, as he had been in the profession ahead of me. He was a big help to a young person coming out of dental school," said Dr. Bragg, who lives in Woodstock.
The son of Frederick Gray, a chauffeur, and Mazie Gray, a caterer, Raymond Lawson Gray was born in Baltimore and raised on McCulloh Street in the city's Sandtown neighborhood.
After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in 1943, he entered Lincoln University in Oxford, Pa., where he joined the Epsilon chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Drafted into the Army in 1945, Dr. Gray served with the military police in the Pacific.
After being discharged in 1947 with the rank of staff sergeant, he returned to Baltimore and enrolled at what was then Morgan State College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1949. He was a 1953 graduate of Howard University's College of Dentistry.
Dr. Gray completed an oral surgery internship at the old Provident Hospital, and in 1955 established a general dental practice in an office in the 1800 block of Pennsylvania Ave.
"Through his career, he provided care in all phases of general dentistry, with an emphasis on educating the public in the area of preventive dentistry," said a daughter, Gina Gray Granger of Glen Cove, N.Y.
"He also proved dental services to elementary school students in the Southwest School District under the auspices of the Baltimore City Health Department," said Ms. Granger.
"Ray was easy to work with, and we got along just fine," recalled Dr. Bragg. "He was an advocate for continuing dental education and would take different courses. I'd go with him to keep up with the latest developments."
Dr. Bragg described his brother-in-law as having a "serious" mind as well as a lighter side.
"He had a great sense of humor, which he used to relax the patients. He could also engage them in conversation, so this was a true positive," he said.
He also said that Dr. Gray had a series of quips that he'd impart to his patients.
"He'd say, 'Most people are wearing an invisible sign that says, 'Make me feel important.' He always made his patients feel important, because that's what they wanted to hear," said Dr. Bragg.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Gray partnered with several dentists and physicians to form Madison Park Medical Center at Eutaw Place and North Avenue. He was also a partner and practitioner at C&G Dental Associates at Bon Secours' Washington Village.
Dr. Gray was a member of the Baltimore City Dental Society where he was a member of its peer review committee, and was also a member of the Maryland Dental Society and Baltimore City Dental Association.
He was a named a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry in 1984, and was a life member of the American Dental Association and the National Dental Association.
Dr. Gray was a member of the peer review committee of BlueCross BlueShield of Maryland, and was a member of the Maryland State Drug Abuse Board.
A Mohawk Avenue resident in the city's Gwynn Oak neighborhood for more than 40 years, Dr. Gray's lifelong passion was golf, family members said.
"Many who were close to him believed golf was his profession and dentistry his hobby," said Ms. Granger.
Dr. Gray's love of the game began in his youth when he was a caddy for his cousin and mentor, Sherlock Grinnage.
He was a member of the Turf Valley Country Club, and when the weather turned cold, he'd head for Pinehurst, N.C., or courses in Florida and Puerto Rico.
"He was known for fitting in 36 rounds of golf while on vacation. He took his clubs to Hawaii, Rio de Janeiro and Montreux, Switzerland," said another daughter, Julie Gray Manley of Ellicott City. "The golf clubs boarded the plane before he did."
For many years, Dr. Gray played with a regular foursome who would meet at his home on Saturday mornings for a hearty 8 a.m. breakfast before departing to play golf at various courses throughout Maryland.
Last year, Dr. Gray celebrated his 70th year as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. He was also a longtime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the alumni association of Morgan State University.
He had been a member since an early age of Metropolitan United Methodist Church, 1121 W. Lanvale St., where funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to his daughters and brother-in-law, Dr. Gray is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Sara Bragg, who retired as coordinator of guidance counseling for city public schools in 1992; a sister, Shirley West of Gaithersburg; and four grandchildren.