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Nelson Gray

Nelson Gray, age 87, of Mountain City passed away peacefully Saturday, March 14, 2015 at his home in Mountain City, TN surrounded by his three daughters. Nelson was born April 28, 1927 in Hansonville, VA to Nelson Gray, Sr. and Patty Hargis Gray. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Doris Wilson White Gray; his sisters, Elizabeth Jane (Bess) Hargis and Mary Armstrong; and special friend and cousin, Jerry A. Jessee.
Nelson was a graduate of Lebanon High School, attended William & Mary College and received his degree from Milligan College. He proudly served in the US Navy and eight years in the Naval Reserves. Nelson was a member of First United Methodist Church of Mountain City and a former recipient of the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Mac Wright Citizen of the Year Award.
He began his working career in Bristol, TN with the National Cash Registry. In 1953 Nelson and his family moved to Mountain City, TN where he became a partner with Joe Blackburn operating Blackburn’s Supermarket. He later became the sole owner operating Blackburn’s until 1979 when he sold the business to Food Country USA. Nelson owned and operated the Quick Shop and the Quick Wash Laundramat for many years. Through his business career he served as landlord for several other businesses such as Department of Human Services, Okay Beauty Shop, Miller Woods Furniture, Rite Aid and Auto Zone, Hometown Salvage Grocery, McDonald’s and Parsons’ Quick Shop. Nelson was an avid golfer and he loved nothing better than sharing a meal with family and friends and telling his stories. He never forgot his loyal customers at Blackburn’s.
Nelson is survived by daughters: Nancy Elizabeth Drake (Ron) of Mountain City, TN; Susan Doris Giles (Alan) of Louisville, TN and Eula Patty Smith (Jerry) of Charlotte, NC; eight grandchildren: Ron “Buddy” Drake, Elizabeth Leigh Drake Sonneborn; Wesley Alan Giles, Sarah Elizabeth Smith, Grady Nelson Smith, Debra Ann Drake, Vicki Drake Sanford and Laura Smith; seven great grandchildren: Payton Anne Drake, Eleanor Wilson Drake, Grayson Drake, Abram Sonneborn, Seth Drake Sonneborn, Emily Sanford and Ashley Sanford; nephews: Charles Hargis, Joel Jessee and James Nelson Jessee; nieces: Patricia Armstrong, Jean Maggard and Gayle Jessee Artrip; several cousins, several great nieces and nephews, and a whole host of friends.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to Amedysis Home Healthcare, Dr. Raina Sluder and staff, Silver Angels (Sarah May, Rose Hammond, Amber Proffitt, Ashley Stollings, Mandy Barrington), Joan Arnold, Sandra Blevins, Lou McElyea and Melissa Taylor for their care of Nelson.
A memorial service to honor the life of Nelson Gray will be held Sunday, March 22, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Mountain City, TN with Rev. Richie Hayes, Mr. Warren Stewart and Pastor Ron Drake officiating. The family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the church. Urnbearers will be Bubby Drake, Wesley Giles and Grady Nelson Smith. Honorary bearers are Ed Townsend, Vance “Bud” Townsend, Tom Reid, Harry “Bud” Reece, Dick Grayson, The Quick Shop “Liars Club”, and former employees of Blackburn’s Supermarket and The Quick Shop.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, Pantry Fund, c/o Bobbie Smith, 216 Anderson Drive, Mountain City, TN 37683 or to Johnson County Cancer Support Group, c/o Flo Bellamy, 3510 Hwy 421 N, Mountain City, TN 37683.
Online condolences may be made to the family through our website at
Professional services for Mr. Nelson Gray are in the care of Hux-Lipford Funeral Home.