We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Hollis Leo Gray, Sr. of Mobile, AL. He had a peaceful passing on July 16, 2021. He was 83 years old. Hollis was a loving son, husband and father. He was immensely loyal to friends and generous to all in need. Hollis was born in Northport AL on October 28th, 1937. "Just across the river from Alabama", he would say. Eventually his family moved to Prichard, AL where he attended Vigor High School, graduating in 1957. He made friendships that lasted his lifetime. He was active in attending all the reunions and get togethers. Hollis was always ready with a joke or a story to make people laugh. He was quite comfortable with a microphone in hand.
Hollis went on to attend Southern Mississippi University where he pledged Phi Kappa Tau and developed a true band of brothers who continued to support and connect with each other. More importantly, this is where he met the love of his life, Jo Alice Blackwell, on the steps of the library. They were married on August 29, 1959, in Semmes, AL. There marriage lasted 56 years until his beloved "Jodee" went to be with the Lord in 2013.
Hollis began his career with Eastern airlines cleaning planes at night to support his family. His first child (Jacque) was born in 1960. During this time, he actively served in the US ARMY and then National Guard he was honorably discharged on Dec. 31st, 1962.
After being discharged he transferred to Miami, where his second child (Hollis Jr.) was born. He became a buyer for Eastern, working his way up to Senior buyer. He was always looking for more and this led to him starting his own procurement company, AirPro, Inc. The company was successful with many airlines from many different countries. This was great for Hollis because he loved travel. Upon his death he had been to 47 states and over 25 countries. One of his favorites was Africa, he loved to reminisce about the sights and experiences there.
Hollis eventually felt called back to where he grew up and returned to Mobile and became a successful restaurateur. Some of the many were, SS Marina on Dog River, Hollisters, Shrimpy's, and Lakeside Lodge. He enjoyed doing this and meeting the people that frequented the restaurants, and of course telling them jokes or stories.
Hollis was a wonderful example to his family and friends on what it meant to love and worship the Lord. He was an active member of Springhill Baptist Church, and was involved in his Sunday School class where he made lasting friendships. Even though his heart was failing him, and it was difficult to get around, every Monday he would show up at the Church office with his tithes for the week. Even the week of his passing.
Hollis loved many things, his family and friends especially but he also enjoyed getting new cars, coming up with the next new idea or product, always thinking, what else can I do. He did not like to sit still, and he did not like to quit. His brother Emerson tells the story of when Hollis was little, he always wanted to wrestle. Emerson knew he was older and could "take him" but quit and laid still until Hollis counted him out, otherwise he would never give up.
Hollis' main enjoyment came from playing golf. He played many courses and had several holes in one but the one moment he would always recall was his best score of 69 and the "double eagle" at Skyline CC. He would say, "those are harder than hole in ones".
He was a big supporter and fan of South Alabama sports. He was honored on the field of the inaugural season of the Jag's football team and the very first person to purchase season tickets. He loved going to watch the basketball games, both men's and ladies.
Hollis was preceded in death by his wife, Jo Alice Blackwell Gray, mother, Amy Gray, father, Virgil Gray, brothers, Lester, Otis and Wayne Gray, and sister, Anne Davis (George). He is survived by his brother, Virgil Emerson Gray (Barbara), sister, Manon Boggs (Jack), daughter, Jacqueline Gray Pontious (Robert), son, Hollis Gray, Jr., granddaughters, Dawn Self (James) and Erin Hovanec (Brian), great granddaughter, Catherine Self and great grandson, Thomas Self. Funeral services will be held at Mobile Memorial Gardens on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Visitation will be from 1:00 - 2:00, and the funeral services will begin at 2:00. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Springhill Baptist Church or the American Heart Association.
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