It is with a heavy heart that we share the loss of our dear friend Les Gray. For decades, Les has been a member of the Whittemore Hardware and Remodeling family. Early Friday afternoon Les passed away after a brief illness, he was 86.

LesBorn in Portage, PA, he was a son of the late Lester and Anna Gray. Les’ father was with the Army Corps of Engineers and thus his family moved often. Eventually finding his way to Massachusetts, Les graduated from Wayland High School and furthered his education at Northeastern University. He entered the United States Marine Corps and served during the Korean War as a sergeant with the 7th Engineering Battalion.

Les returned to Massachusetts, married his late wife Joan (Crimmin) Gray and moved to Natick in 1954. He was employed through the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 40. In 1967 Les met Dick Vanaria while they were working on opposite sides of the street. Dick was eager to learn from Les, a talented finish carpenter. What neither of them appreciated at the time was that this single conversation would lead to a lifetime of friendship (and many cold nights of ice fishing).

Having worked side by side for years, it was only natural that in the 1980’s Les and Dick formed the Vangray Carpentry partnership. Dick would later go on to purchase a share of Whittemore Hardware and expand its services to include Whittemore Remodeling. Les continued working for Whittemore Remodeling through his 86th birthday.

Many Melrose residents have shared conversations or a cup of coffee with Les while he was remodeling their kitchen or installing their windows. Les was a man who truly loved his work. He approached almost every project with a “can do” attitude. His work speaks for itself. It was perfect. No matter how wrong the cabinet was ordered or how out of square a bay window was to start with, it would always end up perfect.

Les was remarkably humble. He did things a certain way because it was the right thing to do not for the acknowledgements. His resume of fine finish carpentry work spans beyond the homes of Melrose into landmarks such as Helen Keller’s Home, the Gardiner Museum, The Museum of Science, the Prudential and Hancock Buildings. Les_working

Although Les was born just a few years late to be considered part of “The Greatest Generation” I think we can make an exception. Les’ extraordinary character and remarkable actions have shone through every stage of his life. He had a tremendous heart and moral compass. His presence was always felt.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Friday October 2nd, in Glenwood Cemetery, 50 Glenwood Street, South Natick at 11:00AM. Les’ grandson, the Rev. Joshua Gray, will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or online through our website (click here). We will also be accepting donations at the store and will forward them to the Wounded Warriors.

The Wounded Warriors Project (WWP) serves veterans and service members who incurred physical or mental injury on or after September 11, 2001. By 2017 the WWP will have served 100,000 warriors, securing $96 million in benefit entitlements for warriors and families, 65,000 warriors and their families will have been served through physical health and wellness, and 10,000 warriors and caregivers will be employed through the warriors to work program. With your help and in Les’ memory we can help further their goal.

Anyone that has shared even just a few moments with Les knows that they don’t make them like him anymore. We thank Les for his years of service to our community and our country. It goes without saying that those who knew him will miss him. He has left a dramatic impact on everyone he leaves behind.

-Michael Whyte
Whittemore Hardware