‘A walking history of Crowley’ dies in the town he loved
By: Howell Dennis
Locals recall a generous, warm, brilliant man
CROWLEY - Every resident of Crowley knew Tracy Gray. If not personally, they’d see him walking down the road on his daily ventures which mainly consisted of visiting friends and helping people by giving gifts or loaning money.
“He would donate books and bring us things such as Christmas decorations and other things that would be fitting for any special time of year,” said the Acadia Parish Public Library’s Crowley Branch Manager Sandra Henry. “And people need to know how intelligent he was. He could tell us the exact date that every employee he ever knew he was hired or when they retired. Tracy would never forget anything. In fact I think he was a genius.”
Upon speaking with other residents of Crowley, their description of Tracy was unanimous.
“That man was so smart,” said Casey Faulk who worked for a short time at ‘Stage’ where Gray would often frequent. “He could look at the price tag of something and tell you how much it was going to cost with the tax added to it, he was never wrong.”
According to his brother Wayne Gray, Tracy was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance in his brain when he was approximately 16-years-old. Though his disorder may have caused people who didn’t know him to view him differently, his friends, mainly those he went to Crowley High School with, remember him fondly as having a kind heart and a giving nature.
“He always stayed in touch with his classmates,” said Emily Stoma, who went to Crowley High with Gray. “He was a brilliant man and a gentle man with a caring heart. Knowing Tracy on a personal level made you a better person. Seeing him around town made me remember that life should be about kindness.”
“My brother was a walking history of Crowley,” said his brother Wayne. “At one point, we were worried about him walking around town so much and we tried to get him to move to Slidell with us. But he really enjoyed all the people here and his social worker said it would be best for him to stay here.”
Being his brother, however, Wayne Gray worried a bit about his kind nature.
“Sometimes he was giving to a fault,” he said. “So I took over paying his bills for him so that he wouldn’t be without the essentials. Though it wasn’t the life that many people would choose he was just being Tracy. He focused on life and he was very loyal to his friends and would do anything he could to help them.”
Tracy’s kindness, however, wasn’t only for those he knew.
“He never met a stranger,” said Bernadette Sarver who along with Henry works at the public library.
An example of this was demonstrated when his home was being cleaned out by friends this week following his death. A woman passed by the Tracy’s house and said she ‘knew what had happened and needed to pick up the clothes she had left.’ Tracy, who didn’t know the woman before she approached him for the favor, let her use his washer and dryer with no questions asked.
“I want my children to learn what type of person their Uncle Tracy was,” said Wayne. “They need to know how truly special he was.”
Gray was a regular at the Pizza Hut on North Parkerson Ave. where he will definitely be missed by those who worked there.
“I started working here eleven years ago and he’s been a regular ever since,” said Pizza Hut Manager Alice Breaux. “He would talk to everybody and man was he good with numbers. He knew the price of everything on the menu. “
“We will definitely miss him,” she continued. “We always knew exactly what he wanted when he came in - either spaghetti or chicken alfredo.”
The employees at Pizza Hut will be chipping in some money to buy some roses for Gray’s funeral.