Marion Simpson Gray

The Older Women's League Logo
The Older Women's League Logo

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

Co-Founder and Co-President of the Green Mountain Chapter of the Older Women's League. Served as President of the Council of Vermont Elders and was Co-Founder and Chair of LEAD International.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

02/17/1917

Date of Death

11/18/2004

Primary Residence

Lyndon

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Marion Simpson Gray was a teacher, a tireless public servant, and an advocate for issues involving women and seniors. She served on the Governor's Commission on Women and was president of both the Green Mountain Chapter of the Older Women's League and the Council of Vermont Elders among many other organizations.

The daughter of W. Arthur Simpson and Ruth Hoffman, Marion Simpson was born on a farm in Lyndonville, Vermont. She graduated from Lyndon Institute in 1935 and married Russell Gray the following year. They had two children and farmed in Kirby from 1946 until 1955, when Marion divorced her husband and returned to school. She received a teaching degree from Lyndon State College in 1958, the same year her daughter graduated. Gray obtained her first teaching job in St. Albans, Vermont, where she taught elementary school from 1958 to 1960. She subsequently moved to Brentwood, Long Island, in an effort to boost her wages and taught in elementary school there for twenty-two years before retiring in 1982. During her tenure, she became active in the teachers' union and raised funds for children's scholarships.

After her retirement, Gray returned to Montpelier, Vermont, and became active in the community on women's issues. She advocated for passage of the Vermont Equal Rights Amendment from 1984 to 1986 and helped organize the Vermont Women's State Fair held in Barre in 1987. She served on the Governor's Commission on Women for ten years from 1988 to 1998 and was appointed to the Health Policy Council from 1992 to 1996.

Gray could often be found at the Vermont Statehouse in her role as advocate for older women. She was a co-founder and long-time President of the Green Mountain Chapter of the Older Women's League and President of the Council of Vermont Elders (COVE) from 1989 to1994. In 1990, she played the staring role in "Marion's Medication Mishaps," a video sponsored by OWL about the dangers of drug interactions. She helped found and became chair of LEAD International, (Leadership, Education, Action, Diversity), an intergenerational organization devoted to encouraging women to take an active part in civic life. After Gray's death in 2004, LEAD sponsored the Marion Gray Memorial Scholarship Fund Women's History Month Contest in her honor.

Gray's public service went beyond advocacy. She served on the board of Vermont Public Television from 1988 to 1992 and Vermont Public Interest Research Group from 2001 to 2004. She also volunteered as a public guardian at the probate court for women without relatives or friends able to represent them. An avid reader, she organized a book group for older women and served on the board of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. In 2002 the Department of Aging and Disabilities presented Gray with the much-deserved Governor's Service Award.

Organizations or Movements

  • Older Women's League
  • Governor's Commission on Women
  • Health Policy Council
  • Council of Vermont Elders (COVE)
  • LEAD International

Occupations

  • Farmer
  • Teacher
  • President of the Council of Vermont Elders
  • President of COVE.

Education

  • Lyndon Institute, (1935)
  • Teaching Degree, Lyndon State College, (1958).

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Kehaya, Barbara. "Marion Gray." In Those Indomitable Vermont Women. Williston, VT: The Vermont State Division of the American Association of University Women, 2006.

  • Marion Gray Scholarship Link