Dr. Paul Edward GrayFebruary 7, 1932 ~ September 18, 2017 (age 85)
Dr. Paul Edward Gray: Husband, father, grandfather, engineer, professor, and President Emeritus of MIT,
died peacefully at home in Newbury Court in Concord on September 18, 2017 after a lengthy and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was born in Newark, New Jersey on February 7, 1932 to Florence and Kenneth Gray. Paul was fascinated by all things electrical. He made electronic gadgets
at home from the time he was quite small, with his father, who let him take apart and put back
together most of the appliances in the house. He built his own radio equipment and was a HAM
radio operator for many happy years. Upon completing high school, Paul went to the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology to study Electrical Engineering, a member of ROTC. He joined the Phi Sigma
Kappa fraternity in 1952, where he found brothers, and earned his B.S. in 1954. He earned his S.M.
in 1955 and then served two years in the Army as an instructor at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He
returned to MIT and finished his Sc.D. in 1960, whereupon he joined the faculty and became a
professor. He rose quickly in various administrative capacities including Associate Dean, Associate
Provost, Dean of Engineering, and Chancellor. With his wife, Priscilla King Gray, at his side, he helped
guide MIT through the social change and technological transformation that marked the second half of
the 20th century. Gray served for four years on the White House Science Council and the Council’s
Panel on the Health of Universities. He was also vice chairman of the nonprofit Council on
Competiveness. He was a staunch advocate for public understanding of science, federal support for
research and higher education, and collaboration between academia and industry.
In 1980, Paul was appointed President of the Institute. He is remembered for his unwavering support
of and advocacy for students and faculty of color and women, for the establishment of the
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), the Leaders for Manufacturing Program,
and MIT’s relationship with the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. In 1990, Paul was
elected the Chair of the Corporation, an office he served for seven years. In 1997, he returned to
teaching and advising students, his very favorite part of his career in higher education. As an MIT
Professor Gray was part of an effort in the 1960s to overhaul the way electrical engineering was
taught, moving the focus away from vacuum tubes and squarely onto semiconductor electronics. In
support of this transition, Gray wrote seven textbooks and other materials, working with MIT
colleagues as well as colleagues at other universities.
Paul served on several corporate and charitable boards, including the Boston Museum of Science,
WGBH, and a decade as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Wheaton College in Norton, MA.
While Paul had many professional and volunteer accomplishments, his family was the center and
foundation of his life. In Paul’s sophomore year at MIT, he met Priscilla Wilson King on a blind date.
Priscilla was the love of Paul’s life and his partner in all things. They were married on June 18, 1955.
Together they raised and educated four children. Paul was a loving and energetic family man, a truly
devoted husband, and a deeply engaged and wise father, especially good at helping with problematic
homework. Paul’s standards were high but he never expected anything of his children and students
that he didn’t expect of himself. He played squash for virtually all his years at MIT, he hiked, biked,
skated, swam, and sailed with his children, and he enjoyed working in his woodshop, fixing broken
things, and working in his yard. He was a master craftsman, creating beautiful furniture. Paul was an
active member of Hancock United Church of Christ and a bible study fellowship there, for well over
fifty years. Paul was a man of faith and integrity, he was incredibly hard working, tremendously
compassionate, and he lived by the light of his generosity and principles and the direction of his true
moral compass. He was an extraordinary and honorable gentleman in every regard. Paul often
quoted Pogo. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Paul is survived by his wife of 62 years, Priscilla K. Gray; his four children and their spouses; Virginia
and Thomas Army, Amy and David Sluyter, Andrew and Yukiko Gray, and Louise and Timothy Huyck;
twelve grandchildren and three grandchildren spouses; Hannah Army, Rachel Army, Caroline Sluyter
and Caroline Perry, Stephanie and James Charbonnet, Priscilla and Selvin Elliott, Elizabeth Army,
Catherine Army, Marie Gray, Paul Gray, Taylor Huyck, Andrew Huyck, and Cynthia Huyck; and one
great grandchild, Virginia Elliott. He also leaves a sister in law and brother in law, Cynthia and Louis
Schueler, and several special nephews and nieces.
Paul cherished each grandchild and their unique gifts and skills. Watching them grow and learn and
connect with each other was his greatest joy over the past thirty plus years. He was a steady and
ready source of encouragement, support, affection, and inspiration for each grandchild. He believed
in them and his unconditional love is mirrored today by their own ways of being in the world. Paul’s
sturdy love, wit, kindness, and fierce determination and intellect will be sorely missed.
The family wishes to thank Doctors William Kettyle and David Diamond of the MIT Medical
Department, and Dr. Alireza Atri, formerly of Massachusetts General Hospital, for their kind and
attentive care during his illness. They also thank the staff of Newbury Court and Abundant Life
Services, and Care Dimensions Hospice for helping Paul to die with his dignity intact, in his home,
with his wife and family at his side. So many truly exceptional friends were present and supportive,
going far out of their way to ease and cheer the journey. Your love has made all the difference in
Paul and Priscilla’s life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to MIT, in memory of Paul Gray for MIT’s Aging Brain
Initiative. Checks should be made payable to MIT and mailed to Bonny Kellermann, Memorial Gifts
Office, 600 Memorial Drive , W98-500, Cambridge, MA 02139, or at https://giving.mit.edu/gray , as the
scientists and engineers of MIT search for a cure to the cruel ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
A Memorial Service will be held at Hancock United Church of Christ, 1912 Massachusetts Avenue,
Lexington, on October 1, 2017 at 1 PM. A celebration of Paul’s life and work at MIT, which he called
“this special place,” will be held at the Institute on November 30, 2017 at 3 PM.
Interment will be private.