By Almeda Girod
Associate Executive Director Dee Dee Gray-Weaver has admired the Riderwood culture and lifestyle since she started 17 months ago, and she wanted her parents “to experience this positive environment.” Ethel and Brucy Gray moved to Riderwood last August from a suburb of Dallas. Another daughter had lived in Amsterdam but moved to the area recently so now Dee Dee’s seven-year-old son, Jackson, has his aunt and grandparents nearby.
Brucy was the third of nine siblings born in Yard, Texas, a city with a population of only 200 at the time. His family later moved to Crandall, a city with a population only slightly higher – about 500 people. Brucy was reared in a faith-based home that stressed education, and all nine children would attend college. His parents would later have a school and library named in their honor in recognition of their encouraging education of local African-American children. Brucy attended segregated schools, the only option available at the time, through high school and went on to attend an all-black college (Prairie View University) before pursuing graduate school.
Ethel Woods was the youngest of ten children living in Denton, Texas. She admits that as the youngest she was spared some of the hard work on the family farm. Ethel’s childhood home has been moved to Denton Historical Museum where it is on display to portray African-American life of that time. She also attended segregated schools, including two years at Texas College in Tyler, before transferring as one of the first Black students enrolled at North Texas State College (now University of North Texas) in her hometown of Denton.
At North Texas, the Black students were a small and closely bonded minority and often gathered at the student union. There Ethel, an art education major, met Brucy, a graduate student in math. The couple married and moved to Rockville, MD, where Brucy had a career as a statistician with the Department of Agriculture. Ethel taught school briefly and later was a homemaker and volunteer. Brucy says “Ethel took care of her part of the deal” referring to the support and love given him and the three children. They retired to Dallas where Brucy taught math at Cedar Valley College and remained active in the community.
Brucy and Ethel continue their involvement with the Lions Club at Riderwood.
Dee Dee says “I love that at any random moment I might see my parents in the hallways of Riderwood. After living so far from each other it is wonderful to share our lives again.”