Gary Allan Spray, 75, of Topeka, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday February 15, 2021 of an apparent heart attack (not COVID-19). He was born August 30, 1945 in Lawrence, the first son of Carl and Miriam Kraft Spray.
Gary attended Lawrence public schools and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1963. He went on to attend Kansas State Teachers College and Highland Junior College, ultimately graduating from KSTC in 1969 with a degree in Business Administration. During his high school and college years, he played drums in various bands, including Gary and the Satyrs, performing all over northern and eastern Kansas.
After college, he was employed in sales and service with National Cash Register Company, as a manager for K-Mart when they opened in Topeka, and then spent nearly 30 years with the State of Kansas in the Unemployment Tax Division, which was in the Department of Labor when he started, renamed to Department of Human Resources for most of his time there, and returned to Labor after he retired in 2001. Following his retirement from the State, he worked for 10 years at Barnes and Noble, which he found extremely rewarding.
Shortly before leaving Barnes and Noble, he began volunteering at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and continued that to the present, serving on the Board of the Friends of the Library for the last few years. In addition, he belonged to the Kansas Prairie Packers for many years (past-president), as well as the Great Plains Hot Air Balloon Club for a time. Leaving those behind, he became active in the Sports Car Club of America, participating in many Solo 2 events in the area, and was most recently part of the Capital City Miata Club. He also was a long-time member of the Sierra Club and a supporter of Public Radio and Television.
He was married to Sharon Gabriel in 1965 and they had one son, Jason Allan Spray, prior to their divorce. He married Kathryn (Kate) Gillispie October 12, 1986 and they had one son, Corbin Gillispie Spray. Gary loved cats, cars, computers, and his family. He enjoyed outdoor activities; camping, canoeing, hiking and backpacking. For their honeymoon, he and Kate backpacked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. They also traveled all over the U.S., to 48 of the 50 States (only missing Alaska and Oregon) and D.C., visited Canada several times, and made a memorable trip to England in 2016. For most of those trips, they slept in a tent and sleeping bags, eventually graduating to a very small travel trailer 10 years ago. Throughout his life, he never lost his spirit of fun and was always eager for new sights and experiences.
He was predeceased by his parents. Left to cherish his memory are his wife; sons and daughters-in-law Jason and Sarah of Lawrence, and Corbin and Kristyn of Topeka; and grandchildren Freeman, Ellis and Gabriel. He is also survived by his brother Larry and sister-in-law Tammy of Lawrence, two nephews, and brother-in-law David Gillispie of Topeka.
Honoring Gary’s wishes, and due to the continuing world pandemic, cremation is planned and a celebration of Gary’s life will be held at a later date when the world is more safe.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Library Foundation of the Topeka and Shawnee County Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave. or at https://foundation.tscpl.org/donate.
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