Mary-Gray Griffith: A life well lived

An appreciation to the woman who contributed so much to improving the community of her birth.

Goshen /
| 19 Jul 2023 | 01:24

Mary-Gray Griffith was an amazing individual. Her list of accomplishments is astounding: Along with running a successful business, keeping a home with her husband Thomas E. Griffith and raising four daughters, she contributed so much of her time to improving the community of her birth — the Village of Goshen.

Born in Goshen on Sept. 21, 1927, and having lived most of her life in Goshen, Mary-Gray Swezey Griffith passed away on June 28, 2023, at the age of 95.

She gave to the community in a warm, friendly way that so many people appreciated. Friends, family, and business associates found her easy to work with, a joy to be around whether while at the office of Griffith Real Estate, or when she was president of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, or on the Great American Weekend Committee, or as a part of Goshen Restoration Unlimited to encourage the restoration of Goshen’s historic downtown district, or with so many of her other organizations and activities.

‘She taught us right’

“It was a joy working with Mary-Gray at our Great American Weekend committee meetings,” said Griffith RE Associate Broker Eveline White. “She always made us laugh, and she had kind words for everyone. We always had great times at those meetings.”

As for her business, “Mary-Gray was a successful businesswoman, she was strict with us, but she taught us right, but not in a ‘bossy’ way. She always said that she wasn’t our boss, that we’re all colleagues here at Griffith Real Estate. And that’s how we still feel—always ready to help each other,” said RE Associate Broker Linda Clark.

“We worked hard here, often seven days a week, if a client needs you, we gave it our all, but Mary-Gray was always supportive and understanding, too, when needed. She was a boss that didn’t feel like a boss — she was comforting, no pretensions,” said RE Broker Pat Strong.

‘What can I do to help you?’

“Mary-Gray was an integral part of Great American Weekend; it is beneficial to the whole community and especially to the First Presbyterian Church. She not only got GAW going, but kept it going, as well,” said David Calvin Kingsley, former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen.

Whenever possible, Mary-Gray was there to help others. Kingsley noted that she opened an apartment in her home to his family, without hesitation, when he first moved to Goshen and his home wasn’t move-in ready. He appreciated that he could call on her for assistance when the church was in need, as he just had to ask Mary-Gray for help and he could sit back, knowing that the task would be done timely and extremely well.

And she was backboard of the congregation by serving as an Elder, on the Finance Committee, volunteering several times to teach Sunday School, and organizing a Bible Study group.

“Every time I ran into her and had either a brief or long conversation, she always asked, ‘What can I do to help you?’” Kingsley said. “She always gave intelligence and presence to any job that had to be done.”

Saying that Mary-Gray was a “gem to work with,” Goshen resident Judy Green, referring to working with Mary-Gray on GAW, explained: “She was a great leader with a wonderful attitude and a great sense of humor. She was a good sport—always up for activity,”

Activities, like skiing, yoga, tai chi, tennis, gardening and spending time with cherished friends were a part of Mary-Gray’s life.

Being with friends was especially high on her list, as she often opened her home to get-togethers with friends and other groups, as recalled by Goshen resident Barbara Hankins.

‘Amazing, but humble’

“We went to the big house—as Mary-Gray called her former home on Route 207—for a Women’s Association summer luncheon. It was like going to a palace, and it was wonderful. She was generous, and it was clear she liked being with people.”

Clark noted, “Mary-Gray was a mentor to me. She was a big part of my life since I met her. We were like family, and she and Tom were great party givers, and we were always happy to be invited.”

“Mary-Gray was an active lady, amazing, but humble. She was surprised by any award that she received. She loved Goshen, for sure. A wonderful lady,” White commented.

Included in the awards that Mary Gray received are the 1983 Orange County Realtor of the Year; the Goshen Chamber of Commerce’s 1985 Woman of the Year and the 2006 Chamber’s Life-Time Achievement Award; and the 2002 Woman of Achievement of Orange County in Business.

“I have such fond memories of our times together,” White said, recalling how Mary-Gray loved to go Catherine’s restaurant. “She always enjoyed going there — she loved how they made their root beer float! She loved them. She loved life. She was a classy, classy person.”