Mike Gray Tribute
Mike Gray 68, Elk River – passed away at home with his wife beside him January 23, 2018 after a long battle with cancer. The nordic ski community lost a life long supporter who was involved in every aspect of nordic skiing. He helped by doing trail development, trail maintenance, grooming trails, ran youth ski programs/races in Elk River area, supporting the high school teams by waxing thousand of skis and grooming trails and even lakes in low snow winters, traveling with team on winter trips.
Mike and his whole family were a big part of the success of the Elk River ski community especially the high school program. I was the head coach for many years and coached his three sons who loved the sport as much as he did. Linda Gray was always there to help support the family and team in numerous ways.
Mike was a Vietnam war vet who served his country and was the most honest honorable person I have ever known. He was a active guy who fished, hunted, skied, biked, camped, ran, canoed, and loved the outdoors. I know how much he loved his family – Linda, Nick, Rory and Dallas. Mike had the greatest smile – it was like a sunbeam shining on you – so it was always fun to make him laugh which wasn’t very hard.
I will miss you and so will the whole Elk River nordic ski community. Love ya Mike and the whole Gray clan!
Elk River Nordic Ski Coach
Below is a letter written by Dave Anderson – the ski guru of Woodland Trails and Nordic skiing in Elk River. He shared his memories of Mike...
It is with great sadness that I must share the news of the passing of Mike Gray ( Ancient Two), one of the original Trail Crew members at Woodland Trails Park.
One of my first memories of knowing Mike was when the Nordic coach, Rollie Ring-Jarvi, asked ski parents to help make a race course on Lake Orono. Mike and I showed up. No one had a plan. Mike and I hatchet a plan, I went to work and got a piece of scrap reinforcing mesh and when I got back we tied it to the bumper of my truck, we both hopped in and the Woodlands Trail Crew was born.
Many of you knew Mike and many of you didn’t. For those who didn’t, Mike was a mountain of man, not only in stature, but more so in deed. He was instrumental in the success of the Nordic skiing in Elk River in the 1990’s and well into the 2000’s. Mike along with, Rollie, Mike Niziolek, Bob Carrigan and I started the building of Woodland Trails ski trails 30 years ago. He and Linda ran Team Ingemar Youth Ski League in town, creating a feeder program for the high school team. He chaperoned ski trips, worked tirelessly on the Woodlands Loppet, volunteered as a coach, waxed thousands of family and team member’s skis and set better classic tracks than anyone I know.
I think of Mike often when I am out skiing. Here a few cherished memories; Mike hopping on a not running, but runaway sled going down the steep hillside from Top-of-the-World, ending up hitting a stump and flying over the windshield. He saved the sled. Mike was swatted by a not too big, bushy maple tree that fell the wrong way in our early years of trail building. After flattening Mike the tree bounced and Mike popped right back up and we got back to work. I was more careful after that. My favorite is Mike ridding the back end of the snow funnel that he and I build to capture and extrude classic tracks (think adult sized playdough fun factory) utilizing as little as an inch of snow to make tracks for classic ski races on Lake Orono.
Mike worked hard to stay out of the spotlight. He did what he did for his family, the team and for all of us who will forever enjoy the trails of Woodland Trails Park.
Please keep Linda, Nick, Rory and Dallas in your thoughts and prayers. No service is planned.
Mike Gray Family
13663 Riverview Drive NW
Elk River, MN 55330