Lena May (Tommie) Gray

Long time Sooke resident, Tommie Gray passed away at age 85. It is with deep sadness that we announce Tommie’s passing on Feb 24th, 2009. Born Dec. 2, 1923 at Olinda in Essex county, she was pre-deceased by her parents, Esther and Verne Thompson, husband Charles (Chuck) Gray, brother Dick Thompson (Joyce Alice). She is survived by her brother Arnold Thompson (Marion), sister Joyce Gowanlock (Keith); nieces Judith Scarsbrook, Bonnie Rymal, Kathleen Gowanlock and nephews Douglas Thompson, Ronald Thompson, John Gowanlock, Robert Gowanlock and 13 great nieces and nephews, all of Ontario.


Tommie has lived in Sooke, on West Coast Rd. since 1962 and was employed for many years at the CIBC bank. She enjoyed a full, exciting and adventurous life! Her first 18 years were spent on the family fruit farm near Leamington, Ontario, where she gained a lasting love of gardening, all aspects of nature, and going to the farmer’s market on Saturday’s with her father.


Always loving travel, she, along with her brother Arnold joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1942. Both served overseas, and Tommie earned The British Empire Medal for Distinguished Service. The medal was presented to her by the then Governor General, Viscount Alexander after her return to Canada in 1946.


Being restless for travel after her years in the service, she obtained a banking job in Dawson, Yukon. There she met and married Chuck Gray in 1948, her husband of 58 years. They worked in Dawson, Chuck at the radar Station, and Tommie at a local bank. They lived in Pierre Berton’s former house, in the same block as Robert Service’s cabin, built and operated the Service Motel, across the street from the Service cabin, owned and operated the movie theatre as well as serving on the Dawson town council – Tommie as the first lady councilor in the Yukon as alderman (lady?). Another highlight of their lives in Dawson, was frequently going out panning for gold!


Tommie & Chuck moved to their West Coast road property in 1962 where Tommie worked at the CIBC in Colwood and Sooke. She resumed her lifelong passion for market gardening and for many “retirement” years grew and sold her produce at flea markets in the Southern Island area.


Tommie had suffered from a heart condition for many years and had become nearly blind from glaucoma. She always remained upbeat, full of fun, and never complaining about these frailties. She continued gardening and caring for her husband Chuck until hewas hospitalized, and died in 2006. Her home on West Coasr Road has been sold to her sister Joyce and she moved into the original Ayre Manor, where she has resided for the past two years.


Always a generous and caring person, she will be greately missed by all her friends and family. There are not enough superlative adjectives to describe this wonderful lady. At Tommie’s request, there was to be no formal service, but a happy gathering of all those whose lives have been enriched by her friendship, will be held at the Sooke Community hall on Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.


Tommie’s friends are too numerous to name – so at the risk of overlooking someone – just please all come to the memorial tribute and share your memories together. If wished, donations may be made to the CNIB or the Heart & Stroke Foundation.