Gray Berg died at home on Feb. 4 after a long fought battle with cancer.
Born in Pontiac, Mich. on Sept. 20, 1926, his family moved to California in 1944. Gray enlisted in the Army Air Corps on D-Day and hoped to become a pilot. He was in cadet training at the end of WWII and finished his enlistment at an airbase near Munich, Germany.
He became an associate of the Mighty Eighth Air Force and attended many reunions with members of the 357th Fighter Group, many of whom became close friends.
While attending University of Southern California on his G.I. Bill benefits he competed in track and cross country and was a member of the 1949, 1950 and 1951 NCAA Track and Field Championship teams, a feat which has never been repeated.
He returned to USC a few years later when he decided on a career in dentistry, graduated in 1960 and practiced for 37 years as a pediatric dentist. While attending dental school he also served as an assistant coach for the track and field program.
Always a sportsman, he was an avid snow skier and then water skier until the age of 80.
Following retirement he spent much of his time in various volunteer efforts. He was a volunteer at Crescenta Valley Sheriffs Station with a total number of volunteer hours exceeding 6,000 before he was no longer able to participate because of his illness. He and his wife and dog, Silly, were actively involved with the Pet Assisted Therapy program at Huntington Hospital until Silly was forced to retire because of old age. Gray also assisted several second grade classes at Monte Vista Elementary School where each child read individually to him once a week. His other volunteer project was editing the quarterly San Fernando Valley Dental Society Bulletin, a position he had held before retirement and then returned for another three years after his retirement.
Gray is survived by his wife of 42 years, Joanne; his four children: Laurie (Vance) Schram of Sacramento; Keith (Janet) Berg of Chino; Chris (Madeline) Thomason of La Crescenta; and Julie Thomason of Eugene, Ore. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Jill, Cherie, Kevin, Beau, Ben and Julianne and his “best friend” Great Dane Treasure.
According to his wishes, there will be no services but his ashes will be scattered at sea.
The family requests no flowers but would welcome donations in Gray’s name to USO (www.uso.org), the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org)