Yesterday, we were saddened to hear that one of our own had passed away.
For ten years, he was a guide here at Consolidated. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
As I stood outside the office today, I glanced over to an old concrete slab with layers of gold spray paint covering it. That is the spot where Miner Gary would lay his “gold” bar and touch it up with spray paint before his first tour of the day. He painted it religiously. He wanted it to sparkle when he showed it to his tour group. He took great pride in giving the best tour he could and a great tour it was indeed. He often quirked that he gave a “dynamite tour”, both in its quality and the fact that he enjoyed talking about blasting. He even carried a prop stick of dynamite on his tour, to the delight of everyone. It had a real fuse and he lit it up one day in our gift shop, much to our amusement. He passed the stick to Miner Mike to take the blame for the incredible amount of smoke in the shop.
On a busy day at the Mine, Gary could outwork the best of us and on a slow day he was the one you wanted to sit down with and talk to. He was a wealth of information, a true renaissance man. He could debate any topic from drag racing to politics, science, history, family, religion and so much more. I don’t think there is a topic under the sun that we didn’t talk about with him. It was such a pleasure to hear him talk and to learn from his life experiences. He was our resident “old timer” and it was a title given out of great admiration and respect.
When I asked the other guides to describe Gary, the same words came up over and over; kind, loving, genuine and happy. He was kind to everyone he met. He loved the children that took his tours underground. He loved the families that came to visit with us and he loved the people he worked with. He showed up every morning with a smile on his face, a pep in his step and a genuine joy in his heart. He loved God, he loved his Country and he loved his family with every fiber of his being. He loved his wife, Janice, and he spoke of her often. They were married for over 50 years. On their 50th Anniversary, the Golden Anniversary, Gary took his wife by the hand and led her down into the Gold Mine, family in tow, and renewed his vows to love her forever. And he did. Many prayers for Janice and her family in the days ahead.
For the next few days, we will all wear black ribbons over our heart to keep him close, we will honor him with a memorial in our lobby and we will mourn with his family. When all of that has faded away we will be left only with the memories of knowing him. Those memories sure are sweet.
Today, I can only imagine the joy Gary has walking on the streets of GOLD!
It was such a pleasure to share a brief moment of life with Gary Gray.