Between the first and second quarters of VMI’s football game against the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the VMI Keydet Club recognized the service that Garland Gray II ’73 has rendered VMI athletics by presenting him with its highest honor, the Spirit of VMI Award. First presented in 1975, the Spirit of VMI Award recognizes outstanding service and support to VMI’s intercollegiate athletic program. In the award’s 46-year history, there have been fewer than 40 recipients.
As a cadet, Gray participated in rat swimming and was involved in many other activities. A civil engineering major, he was consistently on the dean’s list and wore academic stars. He began working for his family’s company, Gray Lumber Company based in Waverly, Virginia, after he graduated from VMI. He currently serves as the president of Gray Lumber Company, which manages the family’s timberland and farmland portfolio. He also is a member of the board of directors of Grayco, which manages all the family’s assets.
Gray has served VMI ever since his graduation. He served a term on the VMI Keydet Club Board of Governors from 1979-82 and became a member of the VMI Foundation Board of Trustees in July 2021.
For almost five decades, Gray has been a consistent and visible leader in support of the Institute and the Corps of Cadets, giving generously to advance every aspect of VMI’s extraordinary education. His support of VMI’s cadet-athletes has accelerated the progress of several teams, including VMI football, and provided many young men and women the experience of representing VMI at the highest level of intercollegiate sports, an experience that prepares them for lives of honorable leadership, high professional achievement, and selfless service.
Gray’s support includes the establishment of the Elmon T. Gray ’46 Athletic Scholarship in 2015. That scholarship honors his father, who—besides being an industrialist, philanthropist, and long-serving state senator—was an enthusiastic fan and generous benefactor of VMI athletics who received the Spirit of VMI Award in 1991. The VMI Keydet Club previously honored Gray by granting him a place on its Wall of Honor in Cameron Hall.
Asked for his reaction at being informed he was receiving the award, he replied, “I am truly humbled to be selected for the VMI spirit award, as I am keenly aware of the support and involvement of previous recipients of this award.”
As to what has motivated him to support VMI, Gray explained, “I am pleased to assist VMI because it is a vibrant example of timeless values of honor, duty, and teamwork. I am proud to see VMI be competitive in athletics without compromising its standards.” He also mentioned his family’s ties to VMI as a reason for his support. “The Institute has been an integral part of three generations of my family, and I want this excellent college experience to be available to the next generation.”
Through his philanthropy, Gray has made VMI accessible to many young people, something which has had a profound effect on their lives, just as it has added to his family’s sterling legacy of leadership in the ceaseless effort to ensure a bright future for the Institute.
Scott Belliveau '83 Communications Officer - Executive Projects
The communications officer supports the strategy for all communications, including web content, public relations messages and collateral pieces in order to articulate and promote the mission of the VMI Alumni Agencies and promote philanthropy among varied constituencies.