Wilmington City Councilmember Linda Gray died unexpectedly Monday, after being diagnosed with pneumonia last week.
“Wilmington is again mourning the loss of a public servant,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki in an emailed statement. “Her death is sad and a shock to us all.” He said the 73-year-old lawmaker was a devoted member that served and impacted the public and the Wilmington community.
Gray grew up in Chicago and attended Howard University, where she earned a degree in psychology. She and her husband then relocated to Wilmington where they lived for over 40 years.
Prior to being elected, she served as a probation/parole officer for almost 30 years, leading groups in the Smyrna jail in addition to a drug and alcohol recovery group for the outpatient Crest program. Afterwards, she was appointed as a magistrate judge.
After serving 20 years as president of the Brandywine Hills Community Association, she was appointed as councilwoman in February of 2019 to replace the seat left vacant when Nnamdi Chukwuocha was elected to the State House. She was later elected to a full term on City Council in 2020.
Her efforts within the community in her district earned her the reputation of being a neighborhood activist. She gave her time while serving in government in a variety of positions for organizations such as the First District Neighborhood Planning Council, Brandywine Zoo, Rockwood Foundation, Wilmington Arts Commission, and the first-ever First Night Wilmington Planning Committee.
“It’s a personal loss to me,” said Ellen Casson, the Neighborhood Association’s newsletter editor. Casson and Gray were friends before Casson joined the Neighborhood Association, where she later served as Gray’s secretary. “She will just be missed very much in the community, that’s for sure. “It’s difficult losing her as a friend and as a community member.”
Purzycki extended condolences to her husband, Harold Gray, who was formerly Wilmington’s Economic Development Director and is the current commissioner of the State Public Service Commission.
“Linda and Harold were devoted to each other and to serving the public,” Purzycki said. “They were a wonderful team. I have directed that City flags fly at half-staff to note Linda’s passing, to celebrate her life, and to commemorate her service to the people of Wilmington.”
Gray is the third person connected to City Council to die in the past three months. In October, Councilmember Loretta Walsh resigned her seat, citing health problems after serving 30 years on Council. She died just a few weeks later.
In September, former Council Member 35-year-old Rhysheema Dixon died. Dixon was first elected in 2017 as the youngest and first Black woman in an at-large seat.