Family And Friends Remember Harry Gray His Way

The Hartford Courant

In life, Harry Gray placed a premium on efficiency, and his family has honored the trait after his death.

Hundreds attended a memorial service Thursday for the former CEO of United Technologies Corp., including the current chief executive, Louis Chênevert, former Gov. John G. Rowland and Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford. But the eulogy was handled by one man alone.

"He was nothing if not efficient and a good time manager," said the Rev. Ned W. Edwards of Farmington's First Church of Christ. "He demanded efficiency. ... We knew that if the service went longer than an hour, Harry would be giving me that eye he often gave me from his pew."

Edwards was pastor to Gray and his wife, Helen, for 15 years. Gray, who lived in Farmington and Florida, died July 8 at age 89.

The 11 a.m. service at Asylum Hill Congregational Church was followed by a reception at the Town & County Club on Woodland Street, where family, friends and admirers told Harry Gray stories.

Edwards noted that the service, reception and Cedar Hill Cemetery burial would all occur within the city limits of Hartford, "a city that Harry dearly loved and gave so much of himself to."

He cited Gray's patriotism, noting the decorated World War II veteran's three favorite holidays: Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July.

Asked once if there were anything he'd change about his career, Gray replied that there was just one thing, Edwards said: He wanted reporters to write that "Harry Gray was strong on defense not because he ran a defense company, but that he ran a defense company because he was strong on defense."

Gray came to Hartford in 1971 to assume the presidency of United Aircraft Corp., ultimately transforming it into the global conglomerate known today as United Technologies Corp. He retired in 1986, after serving as chairman and CEO. He donated millions of dollars to local charities, including universities, theaters, hospitals and museums.

The final song of Thursday's service, performed by a soloist, was a Gray favorite, and one befitting a former chief executive: "My Way."

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