Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12


Velta Morris’ Brother

Mr. Claude Gray Jr.

January 25, 1932 – April 28, 2023

Funeral services for country music legend, Claude Gray, Jr., 91 of Skokie, IL, formerly of Henderson, TX, are pending with Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home.

Mr. Gray passed away on April 28, 2023, in Skokie, IL. Born January 25, 1932, he was the son of Claude and Odelle McFadden Gray, who predeceased him. Also predeceasing him were three sisters, Mary Louise Adams, Opal Parker Bieciuk, and Beatrice Miller. Claude is survived by his sister, Velta Morris, (William), of Lancaster, SC; nephew, Sandy Ray Bristow (Charlotte) of Glenn Heights, Tx; niece, Judy Parker Richardson (Hoyt) of Aubrey, Tx; niece, Millicent Gray Tennison (Johnny) of Eustace, Tx; nephews, William Arthur Morris (Merritt) of Lancaster, SC and Claude Andrew Morris (Karen) of Colcord, OK. Also surviving are Brigitte Peick Ross, his former wife and long-time faithful companion, as well as a host of great-nieces and great nephews, friends, and devoted fans of country music.

A month after high school graduation in 1950 from Henderson High School, Rusk County, Texas, Claude enlisted in the US Navy and was sent to boot camp in San Diego, CA. Following boot camp, Claude was bound for Sasebo, Japan, where he was assigned to his ship, an oil tanker, the USS Cacapon, AO-52. This was his home for almost four years. He was selected to become a Quarter Master. In the Navy, Quarter Masters are helmsmen, navigators, and signalmen. His assignment was to work on the bridge.

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he began his country music career, which spanned a lifetime. It slowed only in his last years when his health began to decline making it was difficult to perform. He was fondly known as the “Tall Texan”, and today his signature song, Family Bible, can still be heard on the radio.

Claude will be remembered for his other many well-known country hits, among them I’ll Just Have a Cup of Coffee, then I’ll Go; How Fast Them Trucks Can Go, and, of course, the much-loved Family Bible. For years Claude performed regularly at will on the Grand Ole Opry, and during his long-time contracts with Mercury, Columbia and Decca MCA records. He had five hit records in the Billboard Top Ten charts where each sold over 1 million records. Today his music can still be heard of SiriusXM Radio. On Saturday, August 10, 2019, Claude was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas, an honor well-deserved, as he spent a lifetime after his military career, in spreading country music across the United States and in several foreign countries. Also honored that evening were country stars Jeannie C. Riley and Rodney Crowell.

Late in life, Claude decided he wanted to write books – and so he did. He authored two books in his 80s, an autobiography, Glorious Country Trail, and another in which he shared his thoughts on the condition of the current political scene, Washington Weasels. He, like many of us, always had an opinion.

Always a devoted reader of both fiction and non-fiction, he always stayed abreast of the current news and political climate, and would happily engage you in conversation on any topic. He was a self-taught student of the Bible and a professed believer in Jesus Christ. Claude was well-loved and he lived a life of loving others; he loved the simple things in life and as long as he lived he had a special fondness for his old home place in East Texas near Henderson.

Perhaps one of Claude’s greatest joys came when he was included in the annual honor flight in August 2022. Leaving Illinois early in the morning, he was flown to Washington, DC along with other military veterans. It was a memorable day, packed with bestowing honors on and appreciation for our retired military men and women who are 78 years or older. Claude was especially grateful to be included in this historic occasion.

His family wishes to express a special thank-you to his cousin, Billy Zager, with whom he spent many hours reminiscing about old times, and to close and faithful friends, Terry and Lori Tyson, who were especially devoted to Claude.

Those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so to Lakeview Baptist Church, 10522 Farm to Market Rd 2011, Longview, TX 75603; or to the charity of one’s choice.

Words of comfort may be shared with the family at


Today, let’s pray for the services that have been held around the world earlier, that the words that were sung and spoken may have roached lives that will now serve God.

Also, let’s pray for the services yet to be held today, including those in our country, state, and town. May Jesus be glorified in all that is said and done. May the impact of our services reach out to those attending in person and those “attending” online.

Pray for both congregations, leadership, families, and individuals. Include your family and yourself in the prayers. Pray that lives will be forever changed today.

FBC, Kentwood will have Sunday School at 9:15 and worship service at 10:30. If your class uses the “Explore the Bible” series, the title of today’s lesson is “I Am He”. The scripture focus is John 18: 1-11. Even if you don’t have a book, you can prepare by reading the scriptures. Today’s sermon topic is “The Exemptions” based on Ezekiel 11 & 13.

If you do not have a church home, we will gladly welcome you to visit with us this morning. If you are unfamiliar with our church facilities, we will gladly guide you to your destination.

The ladies class that I am attending is being taught by Mrs. Barbara Baugh, wife of Bro. Joe Baugh, a former pastor and associational director of missions. She is one great teacher!

Where you attend is not most important. That you attend is most important!

Anna Lee