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James (Jim) Gray of Kansas City, Missouri passed away on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at St. Luke’s Hospice House in Kansas City, Missouri. Jim was born in Durango, Colorado on March 11, 1959 to Irene and Bob Gray.
As a child, Jim attended St. Columba School and Miller Middle School, and then spent his high school years at Durango High School, home of the Durango Demons. He especially loved his woodworking class and was nationally recognized for his talent in woodworking. He was also manager of the school’s football team.
After graduating from high school in Durango, Jim attended Colorado State University, where he studied soil science and agronomy, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1981. While at Colorado State, Jim was president of the Student Agricultural Council, Chancellor of Alpha Zeta National Agricultural Honorary and a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho National Agricultural Fraternity. In 2016, Jim was named an Honored Alumni of the Colorado State University Soil and Crop Science Department.
After graduating from his beloved Colorado State University, Jim launched into a decades-long career in the agricultural industry, specializing in regulatory and environmental affairs. Over the years, he served as the Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs at the Western Crop Protection Association and in similar positions with top-tier agricultural corporations such as Rhone-Poulenc Ag, Aventis CropScience and Bayer CropScience. At the time of his passing, Jim was the President of Gray Executive Direction, LLC and Executive Director of the Industry Task Force II on 2, 4-D Research Data, a position he had held since 2007.
Jim was an extremely well-respected member of the agribusiness community in Kansas City and across the United States. He was a founding member of the Kansas City Agribusiness Council and a member of CropLife America, serving on that organization’s State Affairs Committee. Jim’s dedication to the agribusiness industry was recognized many times in the form of accolades and awards. He received the Agriculture Ambassador award from CropLife American in 2016, an Outstanding Supporter Award from the Missouri Corn Growers’ Association in 2003 and the North Star award from the Western Agricultural Chemical Association in 1994 among others.
Jim also went out of his way to support aspiring professionals in the agricultural industry, often acting as a mentor and sounding board both personally and professionally. He could always be counted on for a smile, a positive word and promised action.
Jim loved working with his hands, making wood furniture and other items. He deeply loved his Colorado roots and would travel back to his home state as often as he could just to hear elk bugle in the mountains.
Jim’s family has a long agricultural legacy in their home state of Colorado. His grandparents, Starling and Essie Gray, established a farmstead in Kit Carson, Colorado in 1915. They were recognized with a Centennial Farm and Ranches Award from the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 2018. More than 38 members of the Gray family converged at the Colorado State Fair that year to celebrate his honor.
Family was the center of Jim’s life. He married the love of his life, Kenna Chesser Gray, on August 25, 1990 in Loveland, Colorado. Jim and Kenna were blessed with two amazing children, daughter Tessa and son Remington.
Jim is survived by wife, Kenna (Chesser) Gray, daughter Tessa Gray and son Remington Gray, all of Kansas City, Missouri. He is also survived by his brother Chris Gray and extended family. Jim was proceeded in death by both his mother and his father.
A Celebration of Life ceremony to honor Jim’s life and work is being planned. Details of this event will be announced at a later date. Memorial donations may be made in his honor to St. Luke’s Hospice House.