Robert C. Gray |

Robert C. Gray

Robert C. Gray, 97, of Orinda, California passed away peacefully at home. Robert was born in Oakland, California to Harry E. Gray and Kathleen S. Carter on August 13, 1921. Robert was kind, energetic and lived a full life. He was an advanced stamp collector and in 1935 he attended the first Boy Scout National Jamboree at Washington D.C. On June 5, 1938 he rode the final Virginia & Truckee Railroad train to Virginia City, Nevada. He graduated from Oakland High in 1940. He was a graduate of the University of Oregon and a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. As a sophomore, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He completed the Navy V-12 program at U.S.C. in 1944
before being shipped off to Quantico, Virginia. He trained on Guadalcanal and landed on Okinawa April 1, 1945, with the Sixth Marine division, 22nd regiment, as a rifle marksman, and one of two photographic technicians. Luck was with him, and afterwards he photographed the Japanese surrender in Tsingtao, China. Advancing Chinese communists forced the few remaining Marines to leave for Guam. On Guam, his last major assignment, at 24 years old, was to put grid lines on the U.S.M.C. invasion photos of mainland Japan, with the understanding they would
have up to 300,000 U.S. casualties. Just before the Allied landings commenced, the atomic bombs were dropped and the war ended.
Robert spent several years touring the United States with a tripod and a large format camera photographing disappearing steam locomotives. Returning to the University of Oregon for graduate studies, he met his wife Ardelle. He started and ran a regional wholesale distribution company and he raised a family. Robert was a disciplined swimmer, an excellent horseman, and snow skied into his eighties. He loved golf, and he  specially loved watching Oregon football. He was fortunate to travel all over the world with his family. In 1972 he traded the remains of a family ranch for the now abandoned V & T Railroad property in Virginia City, Nevada. He did the painstaking research, obtained governmental approvals, financed, relayed track, and ran his first popular steam tourist train on July 2, 1976, just in time for the Nation’s historic bicentennial celebrations. Robert kept operating and improving the V & T Railroad without compensation for nearly 50 years, and he was active as president until 95 years old.
He is survived by his son Thomas, daughter Kimberlee Tankersley, granddaughter Georgie and grandson U.S.A.F. Sergeant William Tankersley. Robert will rest with his wife of 67 years at the Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon. Memorial donations may be made to the local chapter of D.A.V., Disabled American Veterans.