Hollis Arnold Gray was born Jan 18th,1931 in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad, West Indies to the parents of James and Blanche McCarthy Gray (both deceased). He was the second of seven siblings. His siblings were, Clifford, Gordon (deceased), Nydia (deceased), Irwin (deceased), Clyde (deceased) and Glenda (deceased). He attended Belmont Boys Roman Catholic school. He attended Belmont Boys Roman Catholic school. He graduated with a school leaving certificate. Hollis Graduated from City & Guilds with a certificate in offset printing and worked for the Government Printery in Trinidad for several years before he migrated to Boston in 1968. He worked for more than 20 years as a printer with Stone and Webster Engineering prior to his retirement in 1998.
Hollis was a volunteer fire fighter with the Fire Fighter Services of Trinidad and Tobago and member of the Trinidad and Tobago Unity social club in Boston. Like many young men growing up in Trinidad, he was drawn to steel band rhythms, playing pan with several bands around town. He looked forward to hanging out with his friends during the Carnival season. He enjoyed being outdoor with family and friends. Going to the beach and watching action movies were some of his favorite pastimes. Hollis was into weightlifting; in fact, it was a catalyst that attracted my mother to him. They grew up on the same street, in Westbury Lane and she would see him working out. Family life was very important to him he was proud to be a parent and considered it a great blessing. He was a big fan of boxing and wrestling and always talked about the upcoming matches with his siblings during their early morning phone calls. His friends at the Government printery in Trinidad nick named him 'Small Change.’
Hollis was easy going, friendly and thankful. It seemed like he knew every other person he passed on the street. He was the parent we ran too when mom was exercising the rod of correction. Hollis was a spiritual man but not religious. He was always confident God would provide a way through difficult circumstances. A couple years ago I overheard him saying a beautiful prayer, asking God to help and bless each person in his family, this was long after the days he could keep an ongoing conversation with his family and his friends. I knew then, that even when our loved ones could not fully communicate with us because of dementia, they could express thoughts in the moment, and those thoughts are not jumbled and twisted, despite the fact they forget what was said in an instance. Hollis was a compassionate man who had the gift of feeling other people’s pain. He made comments like, “That person has a shoulder pain.” because he was experiencing their pain in his body. After the person passed by, he would feel normal again. At times he would intuitively know if one of his friends had a near death experience and would wait to get a confirmation call of the event. He shared several stories like this with us over the years.
After Hollis retired, he found enjoyment picking up his granddaughter Corinne from preschool and interacting with her as they strolled home. He shared the joy of being a grandparent with his brother Irwin who was also experiencing the beauty of interacting with his grandchildren as well. After he grew past that phase of his retirement, my aunts would plan day trips and invite him for the ride. That created in him a desire to go out for drives that he never lost.
Hollis willingly carried the burden of taking care of his wife for years as her health declined. He was very territorial guarding the home front, not wanting anyone beside the family to enter. We had to implore him to let other people come into to help my mom. As it became apparent that he could no longer manage his own affairs due to dementia, he quickly embraced the role of being served. At an age when most people would kick back and relax, Hollis eagerly looked forward to being picked up daily to go to The Community Family Adult Day Care in Medford Center, where he was actively engaged with peers and felt alive. We will surely miss him as many fond memories flood our heart.
Hollis was preceded in life by his first-born son Ronald and his wife Janet. He leaves to cherish his memory children Glenroy Gray and Lyndianne Joseph, granddaughter Corinne Joseph, son in law Keith Joseph, nieces, and nephews.
Pumping iron, muscles growing
Shirtless, with biceps showing
Smelling sweet, she passes on her way, going.
My eyes affixed and she not knowing
I got the nerve to ask her out.
She got permission, that’s how we came about.
We would often meet in our favorite place.
And there we would tenderly embrace
I was a Pan man, the music sweet.
We’d be jumping up and dancing to the beat.
Her folks were not at all too pleased.
They would do anything to make me leave
Pan-men in them days was not the craze.
They were not known to be well behaved.
No decent girl, with them should be caught.
There were too many gangs in which they fought
My love was strong, to her I belonged.
She was in love with me and I was happy as can be.
Through thick and thin we both hung in.
When the children came along it was a different song.
The memory of my story is well ingrained.
Long after my mind begins to wane.
So, if you hear my story repeat,
Just smile and say that was pretty neat.