Obituary: Sir Anthony Gray

Francis Anthony Gray, administrator, born 3 August 1917, Treasurer Christ Church Oxford 1952-72 (Emeritus Student 1972), Secretary and Keeper of the Records of the Duchy of Cornwall 1972-81, KCVO 1981, married 1947 Marcia Wyld (one son, two daughters), died 2 August 1992.

TO REMEMBER Anthony Gray is to be warmed again by a sun of kindness and good humour, of a geniality strong enough to turn all but the sourest sweet.

Tony Gray was a tall man and this characteristic, which lent him presence, was also the cause of much physical disability in his life. As a boy he grew to over six feet before reaching adolescence and a consequent weakening of his spine meant a great deal of trouble with his back in later years. Since he was taller than most people, most people will remember him bending, with concentrated attention, to hear or to recount something amusing; for he loved to laugh. It could also be said that he loved people, in all their peculiarities, unpatronisingly, unsentimentally but with compassion, and with an abiding delight in the oddities of human conduct.

Tony was an only child. His earliest years were spent in Suffolk, where he may have acquired the love of country things, the feeling for land, which were later to be of such importance. After attending Marlborough and Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1936 he joined the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. In doing this he displayed an interest, perhaps innate, in the ways by which people might be persuaded to achieve coexistence by other means than war. That interest would be exemplified in a lifetime devoted to wise administration and the arts of conciliation. In 1939, when Gray was 22, war engulfed the world. His long-standing back trouble precluded ordinary military service. He became engaged in war work, often of a secret nature, about which, afterwards, he would never speak.

It was at the end of the war that I came to know Tony Gray, not long before his engagement to Mish Wyld, whom he married in 1947. His friends observed with pleasure the delight he felt at being welcomed into a large, lively, intelligent family which offered him much that his rather lonely childhood had lacked. That marriage would last for 45 years and provide him with three children of whom he was intensely proud.

For a while after the war Gray worked for the British Council, and then left to join the Hulton Press, publishers of Picture Post, The Farmers' Weekly and other magazines. He immersed himself in matters of production and circulation, and took pleasure in observing the somewhat byzantine politics of the publishing world.

In 1952 Gray was appointed Treasurer of Christ Church, Oxford. There can have been few appointments more perfectly suited to him. The college is a large landowner with properties all over the kingdom. Gray had some of his happiest times visiting land-holdings in many counties; at the same time he took the college's financial business into new fields of investment both at home and overseas. His family were settled not far from Oxford, at Ramsden on the edge of Wychwood Forest, and there and in his handsome rooms at Christ Church he and Marcia entertained what had come to seem an almost uncountable number of friends.

Gray did many other things for Christ Church besides managing and enhancing its patrimony. It was he who put in hand the repair and redecoration of its magnificent library and the building of the new art gallery. When, after 20 years, he retired from the treasurership the college, whose fellows are known as 'students', made him Student Emeritus.

Then, in 1972, began the last stage of Gray's public career. He was appointed Secretary and Keeper of the Records to the Duchy of Cornwall, property since the 14th century of the heir to the throne. There, once again, his knowledge of farming, of building and finance was fully engaged, as were his easy friendliness and diplomatic skill. On his retirement his family moved to a new home at Upton Scudamore in Wiltshire.

Tony Gray's qualities as an administrator led him, at various times, to membership of the Agricultural Advisory Council, the Ditchley Foundation, the Council of the Royal College of Art, and to the Chairmanship of the Travellers' Club. He travelled widely, and was at the disposal of any who came to seek his advice. Many who found themselves at some crossroads in life were helped forward by his wisdom, his imaginative sympathy and his always practical assistance. For the love that he gave to others much was returned to him. Severe illness, at the end, meant retirement from the world of his friends, but he was never forgotten. Few men can have left so good a report.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor