Vale John Gray

And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.
(Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales)

With much sadness I report that our friend and colleague, Mr John Gray, passed away in Sydney on Tuesday 17 March 2020 after a long battle with cancer. A member of ANZAMEMS for many years, John retired from James Cook University in 2006 after forty years of service as a lecturer and administrator.

John was a polymath whose learning and teaching extended across Old and Middle English Languages and Literature, Old Icelandic, Linguistics, Stylistics and Shakespeare studies. In the 1990s and 2000s he instituted subjects which became core units for students in Journalism, Communication and English. He was also an innovator in computer pedagogy and online teaching. The conference papers he delivered on these subjects assisted colleagues throughout Australia and internationally.

John was a friend and supporter to colleagues in Townsville and Cairns, and for those of us still teaching he remains an invigorating and inspiring influence. His wit was legendary. He spent endless time out of class counselling students on their work. An educator in the best sense of the word, he fostered students’ enthusiasm by his wit, cheerfulness and qualities as a performer. His rapport with students and ability to impart first-year academic literacies is unsurpassed in my career experience. He received perfect scores in student feedback and attracted loyalty from the most cynical or insecure students.

While I believe John’s retirement years were enjoyable and that is a gladdening consolation for his passing, it is nevertheless deeply saddening that he is gone. His wife, Denese Gray and extended family will be greatly bereft, and I offer deepest condolences and sympathy to them.
When he retired, Professor Richard Lansdown, then head of English, made the announcement: “John Gray has left the building.” John Gray has indeed left the building, never to be forgotten by the many people who knew him. Rest in peace.

from Associate Prof. Cheryl Taylor, James Cook University