In Tribute to Kimball Gray

In Tribute to Kimball Gray: On June 24th, we lost our dear friend, colleague, and esteemed disability advocate Kimball Gray. Kimball was not only a pillar in independent living, but he also endeared himself to so many with his wit and wisdom.

Kimball was a proud Air Force brat. He was born on an Air Force base and his parents served the next 27 years in the Air Force. Kimball often commented that life as an Air Force brat taught him to get to know people quickly. Kimball lived in five states and in the UK during his father’s service in the Air Force.

Kimball graduated high school in Utah in 1979 and his family moved “home” to Mississippi that summer.

After his spinal cord injury in 1981, due to an auto accident, he returned to college and graduated with a BBA, Finance from Mississippi State University.

While in college, Kimball served on the Mississippi Independent Living Council. Upon graduation, Kimball started as a rehab counselor with the State of Mississippi working with Christine Woodell in Long Beach, Mississippi.  Through Christine, Kimball met Mark Smith.  Kimball worked with Mark to open the first Independent Living Center in Mississippi, where Kimball served as the Executive Director of Living Independence for Everyone (LIFE) in Jackson, Mississippi.

As Kimball realized the need for strong state Independent Living Councils, he relocated to Columbia, South Carolina to serve as Executive Director of the South Carolina Independent Living Council. Several years later, after meeting Marci Roth and Steve Towle, Kimball moved to Maryland to serve as Executive Director of the Maryland Independent Living Council.

Later, Kimball was the Director of Community Services at ECNV – Endependence Center of Northern Virginia before joining the Department of Education working with Sue Rankin-White and Tim Beatty supporting the Independent Living programs.  Then, of course, Kimball moved to HHS when ACL moved to HHS. He loved the independent living philosophy, programs, and enjoyed the community of people he met and worked with over the years.

Aside from the independent living philosophy, Kimball also loved all sports! He was on a Utah State Championship High School Football Team his senior year. Kimball played wheelchair rugby for several years and really enjoyed the camaraderie and challenge of team sports. He would watch any sport or adventure show, was an avid History Channel and Discovery Channel fan. 

Kimball always enjoyed cooking, starting from first living alone during college. When he got into BBQ smoking, he became a KCBS certified BBQ judge. He enjoyed working in the yard, especially planting trees and watching them grow.

Kimball is predeceased by his mother, Vera Ruth Gray and his sister, Shawna Ruth Gray.

He is survived by his wife, Michelle Gray; his father, David Gray; brother Todd Gray and his wife Beth Gray; nephew Shawn Gray and his girlfriend Robin Martinez; and niece Nicole Gray.