William J. "Bill" Gray, 81, of Lubbock, passed away October 14, surrounded by his immediate family and sisters. He was born on December 19, 1940, in Artesia, to Orval C. and Mary Jane Terry Gray.
A visitation is scheduled from 4-6 PM. on Tuesday, October 18, at Terpening & Son Mortuary, and a celebration of life will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Artesia at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19.
Bill grew up on the family farm in the Cottonwood community, north of Artesia, starting his education at Cottonwood School, which was built on land donated by his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Terry. He graduated from Artesia High School in 1958 as a proud member of Artesia's first state football championship team.
He continued his education at New Mexico Military Institute where he played on the Broncos baseball team, later finishing his college studies and achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering at Texas Tech University.
On April 2, 1961, Bill married the former Vicki LaNette Wickersham of Artesia.
His early career took his young family to Ottumwa, Iowa with John Deere, and later, opportunities with Continental and other oil companies in Casper, Wyoming; Ponca City, Oklahoma; and Tulsa, Oklahoma before returning to Artesia in 1969 as Chief Engineer of Navajo Refining Company.
Over the years, he rose through the ranks at Navajo, retiring as Senior Vice President of Navajo Refining Co. and Holly Corporation, later serving on the boards of Holly Corporation and Holly Energy Partners in Dallas.
A lifelong public servant, he sat on the Artesia City Council and numerous other boards including Western Bank and College of the Southwest (now the University of the Southwest).
Bill retired from Navajo in 1999 and was celebrated with a retirement party featuring the Gatlin Brothers Band, a true highlight to cap his career.
After retirement, Bill was elected to serve in the New Mexico House of Representatives (District 54) from 2007-2014. As a legislator, he and LaNette enjoyed traveling the state and making many lifetime friendships.
Bill and LaNette were blessed with three children: William Brett, Suzette, and CaraBeth. He was proud of his Artesia roots and the Artesia Bulldogs' legacy and joked that his blood ran orange. He followed the Bulldogs closely, especially during football season, and when traveling during a game, he would call KSVP from the road to ask for the score long before the games were later streamed.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his in-laws Lowe and Johnnie Wickersham, and sister Terry Jane Gray Ritchie.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, LaNette, whom he adored, and sisters Glenelle Butler and Exa Cunningham (Kenneth), and sister- and brother-in-law Jana and Lynn Troublefield, Tomellen Burnett; and three children. He's also survived by three sons-in-law Kindred Roach, Johnny Puckett, Jr., and Michael Moore; grandchildren Jonathan Puckett (Sarah), Michael Lane Moore (Katie), and William Blake Moore (Sara); and great-grandchildren Jonny Puckett and Gray Elizabeth Moore.
Gifts to honor Bill may be made to MD Anderson, Attention Dr Rodabe Amaria, and Dr Merrick Ross. First United Methodist Church of Artesia, Christian Center Church in Hobbs, or the Texas Tech Alumni Association.