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Published: 10/28/2003

Undercover officer known for tenacity

David E. Gray, 64, a retired Toledo police sergeant who during his career was an investigator in the youth-services section and vice-metro drug unit, died of heart fibrillation Monday in a West Toledo kidney dialysis center.

He retired from the police force in 1991 because of heart problems and had been undergoing dialysis since March, his wife, Charline, said.

Mr. Gray, of Point Place, worked in the records section for several years before retirement. He was promoted to sergeant in January, 1987, and worked for a time in the field operations bureau, supervising police patrol officers.

He began as a civilian in the records section. He was appointed to the then-police division in April, 1963, while in the Army. He'd successfully taken the eligibility test while home on leave - encouraged by his grandfather, Grover Howe, who was on the force, as were his father, Thomas Gray, and uncles, William and Robert Gray.

“I broke him in on the district they called 9-Scout, which was West Toledo, and he worked with me for a number of years before I went into the detective bureau,” Gene Fodor, a retired police detective, said. “Then Dave went into the vice squad, where he worked morals and narcotics.”

Mr. Gray liked working undercover, whether posing as potential customer for a prostitute so he could make an arrest or arranging to buy an illegal substance so he could help shut down a drug house.

“It was the thought of putting it over on guys,” Mr. Fodor said. “He had a good mind, and he was very tenacious.”

Mr. Gray could be intimidating too, and he put his glower to good use on the job. During raids on drug houses, his colleagues “used to send him in first, because the dogs would run from him,” his wife said.

Mr. Gray later worked in youth services, and “he excelled as a juvenile detective,” Mr. Fodor said. “He loved the investigative work.”

Mr. Gray was a graduate of Scott High School, where he played on the football and basketball teams. He later played football in the Army. He attended the University of Toledo.

He liked his motorcycles, whether riding the hills of Colorado or racing at nearby tracks.

“There's nothing like the adrenaline and the control,” said his wife, who would go riding with him.

He had a 28-foot power boat and was treasurer of the River View Yacht Club, of which he was a past commodore.

He was a past vice president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association. He was treasurer of the Point Place Business Association and Ottawa River Klean-up Association.

“He was so civic minded,” his wife said.

Mr. Gray was a Mason and was a member of Harbor Light and Barton Smith lodges.

Surviving are his wife, Charline, whom he married April 25, 1977; sons, David, Peter, and Bryan Gray; father, Thomas I. Gray; brothers Thomas and Lynn Gray, and a granddaughter.

The family will receive visitors from 5 to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow in the David R. Jasin Mortuary, with River View Yacht Club services at 7 tonight followed by Ottawa River Klean-up Association services at 7:30 tonight in the mortuary. Masonic services will be at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary, followed by Blue Gavel services at 7:30 p.m. and a police honor guard. There will be no funeral services.



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