12/29/04 — Wayne native to be inducted in Sampson County Hall of Fame

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Wayne native to be inducted in Sampson County Hall of Fame

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 29, 2004 1:58 PM

CLINTON -- The late Edna Amelia Brinson Gray, a native of Wayne County, will be inducted into the Sampson County Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Gray will be inducted with living recipient David Franklin King during the annual banquet held on Jan. 28 at the Civic Center in Clinton.

Her husband, Edward Gray, said she will be the first black woman to be inducted into the Sampson County Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame banquet has been held since 1997 to recognize individuals, both past and present, who have made significant contributions to the growth, development and well-being of Sampson County and its people and to express the gratitude of the county to those individuals by recognizing their achievements. The Sampson County board of Commissioners appointed a hall of Fame Advisory Board, which makes recommendations for induction into the Hall of Fame based on nominations.

Mrs. Gray was nominated by her husband and other family members and friends.

She lived in Dudley and graduated from Dillard High School. She was the daughter of John and Sallie Brinson. Gray said her mother lived until just shy of 100 years.

Mrs. Gray died at the age of 80 on March 24 at the Southwood Nursing Home in Clinton.

She was well known as having been the first black home economics extension agent in Sampson County. She started working there in 1944.

She and Gray married in 1949 and, after six years as an extension agent, she had organized 17 women's home demonstration clubs all over the county.

She then started teaching home economics in the Sampson County public schools. She taught for 30 years.

According to the nomination form, one summer while she was teaching, she directed the summer program of the Neighborhood Youth Corps for Sampson County. She employed 300 students who wanted to gain work experience, counseling and financial assistance. They worked for the schools, governmental agencies and non-profit agencies. Some of the students did secretarial work. Some refinished school desks. Some did painting work.

Mrs. Gray was also instrumental in the construction of two community buildings, one in the Snow Hill community and the other in the Ingold community, the nomination stated.

She was a member of the Duplin-Sampson Mental Health Board, the Sampson County Association of Educators, Retired School Personnel and a member of the AARP. She was a member of the Rebecca Chapter No. 111 Order of the Eastern Star, president of Class Room Teachers, president of the district Vocational Home Economics Teachers, member of the Daughters of Zion, Women Guild, the NAACP and a member of the first Baptist Church of Clinton.

While she was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, she promoted a student from her chapter for a scholarship on the district level. The student won. This was a first for the Rebecca Chapter and a first for Sampson County, said the nomination.

The student is in medical school now, is an "A" student at Chapel Hill and plans to return to Sampson County to practice medicine.

Mrs. Gray is survived by her husband, her daughter, Karen King, and three grandchildren, Robert, Roberta and Raymund.