We've lost a LEGEND...
This past weekend we lost the legendary hotelier Charlie Gray, as many of you know he battled the last few years with Parkinson disease.
To many of us he was our friend, mentor, colleague, competitor, and local hero. We would love for you to share some of your fond memories of Charlie on our memory tribute wall which will be up in the next few days. Below is his obituary written by his daughter Alysia.
We have set up a Tribute Wall, and if you would like to post a memory, even a photo, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will update the page.
Charles Gray, age 86, passed away on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. A caring, inquisitive, hard-working, and funny man, Charlie was deeply devoted to his family and enthusiastically engaged with his work in hospitality, making for an illustrious career that spanned seven decades. He possessed a natural talent for knowing, growing, and authentically connecting with people and the world, a quality that was on dazzling display throughout his life.
His favorite saying was "that's wonderful!,” his response whenever he saw something that delighted him, and almost everything he encountered delighted him. A painting, a sunset, or a breakfast burrito were all instantly proclaimed to be "wonderful!"
If you looked up "hotel man" in the dictionary, you might find Charlie's photo. He helmed several major properties in the role of general manager, working for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Hilton, Marriott, Radisson and Sheraton. Charlie served on convention & visitors bureau boards, and various hotel & tourism associations across the country, from Albuquerque & Tucson to Boston.
Charlie enjoyed a lengthy tenure as Executive Director for the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association from 2007 to mid 2020, as well as a successful run as the Executive Director for the Santa Fe Lodgers Association. In 2017, Charlie was inducted into the New Mexico Hospitality Association's Hall of Fame.
The people of New Mexico were dear to his heart. He lived in Albuquerque as a young teen and adored his beautiful state. His Frontier Restaurant order, unchanged for decades, was scrambled egg whites and hash browns with green chile.
The Arizona State University graduate also spent many years in Phoenix and Tucson, overseeing everything from charming motels to large convention hotels. Charlie was a Southwest lover, through and through.
His accolades and awards were numerous, and you could always count on Charlie to give a gracious acceptance speech peppered with a few solid jokes. If you weren't already his friend, you wanted to be after hearing him speak (but most everyone was his friend).
Charlie's generous commitment to his guests and staff was the stuff of inspiration, but he also made time to assist young people eager to launch their own careers. His many years of teaching hotel management at Pima Community College in Tucson and mentoring up-and-coming hoteliers means he helped to shape the future of hospitality, a calling he relished.
A hotel career can famously mean long hours, but Charlie put his family at the center of everything. Not only do his loved ones treasure their shared "Dad stories," but each family member has their own personal anecdotes about Charlie, including the many times he visited, phoned, praised, consoled, advised, and went the distance on their behalf.
Some families are lucky to have a superstar in their midst, but Charlie was a superstar who constantly shone his light on others. He sometimes joked he would have liked to have been a Hollywood agent, perhaps in another lifetime, but he did have a knack for promoting and elevating those he loved, always making them feel like they'd won the starring role in anything they attempted.
No matter what your dream was, Charlie said "go for it." No matter the final result, Charlie said "I love you."
He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 63 years, Kathleen, as well as his eternal fan club, including son Michael, daughter-in-law Maura, son Paul, soon-to-be daughter-in-law Stephanie, daughter Alysia, son-in-law Christopher, granddaughter Nicole, grandson-in-law Kris, grandson Sean, granddaughter-in-law Caitlin, grandson Andrew, granddaughter-in-law Taylor, grandson Hunter, granddaughter Skyler, granddaughter Bailey, soon-to-be grandson-in-law Chase, his four sweet great-grandchildren Max, Penny, Fischer, and Jones, and his devoted sister Audrey. He was preceded in death by his parents Ana and Charles.
A private family celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations in Charles Gray's honor may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Address to send cards to:
6331 Southbroom Dr.
Evans GA 30809