The Passing of a Visionary

Nov 06, 2012
Oregon recently lost one of its great visionaries, with the passing of John Gray. Gray was an astute businessman with remarkable foresight and a devotion to conservation.


Oregon recently lost one of its great visionaries, with the passing of John Gray.  Those new to Oregon may perhaps not recognize the name (as he assiduously avoided the spotlight), but they’ll most certainly know his handiwork. John Gray was the visionary builder of central Oregon's Sunriver, Salishan Lodge on the north Oregon coast, and Skamania Lodge in the Columbia Gorge. Since the 1960’s, John Gray’s iconic resorts have served as gateways for Oregon's tourism industry and in turn helped diversify rural economies just as our traditional natural resource industries were stumbling. Certainly, it’s no stretch to say that John Gray laid the foundation for Central Oregon to become a magnate for those in search of an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Throughout his life, John Gray combined a keen sense of the future with a deep passion for Oregon. Yet he was also a bit of an anachronism, having made his mark and much of his fortune as a developer of iconic destination resorts, he was also a champion of Oregon's unique landuse system. Long a leading philanthropist, John's interests, compassion and generosity were as remarkably diverse as they were deep. Whether it was education, low income housing or medical research, John was often among the first to be asked to help. Yet it always seemed that the lands and landscapes of Oregon were never far from his heart. 

Given John Gray’s background, it would have surprised few, had he purchased and protected an iconic property or view as a gift to future generations. However, with his keen business acumen and remarkable foresight, John Gray understood that his own personal fortune, as large as it was, would only go so far. To achieve truly transformative land conservation, John Gray recognized that he could greatly leverage his own gift by using it to grow the capacity of Oregon’s land trusts and challenging land trusts and their communities to match his investment. With his family equally committed, John Gray spent much of the last few years of his life thinking about how to help Oregon’s land trusts in their quest to protect and permanently steward the best of Oregon. In the coming months, Oregonians will hear more about the legacy of this truly remarkable man, his generosity, his vision and his wisdom. For now, just know that while we’ve lost a great visionary, his vision will shine for generations to come.   

Learn more about the Gray Family Foundation.