HELEN GRAY TO RETIRE AS KC STAR’S RELIGION EDITOR

JohnLandsberg
December 17th, 2012
Helen T. Gray

Last week this site posted a list of many of the journalists who are no longer at the Kansas City Star after several rounds of layoffs over the years.  Some were very familiar names while some were more behind-the-scenes contributors.

Now another prominent and respected name familiar to readers over the years will be leaving the McClatchy-owned paper after taking a voluntary retirement. Helen T. Gray will be leaving the paper after a 47-year career, 41 of them as the faith and religion editor.

“It’s time,” Gray told Bottom Line, saying she will not only retire from the paper, but also plans to relocate to New Jersey to attend to her 91-year-old mother.

“I need to do this,” she says.

Her last day will be Jan. 4.  Editor Darryl Levings will assume her duties, and the paper will continue to have a Faith Section.

“Helen is the closest thing to a saint that any newsroom has ever had,” says former reporter/editor Jim Fitzpatrick who retired in 2006 after a 37-year career at the paper and currently operates the jimmycsays.com blog.

“In the midst of a gritty stew of anxiety, hand wringing, newsroom politics and back biting, Helen presented a picture of peace and goodwill when she would occasionally drift into the second-floor newsroom, from the arts and letters labyrinth on the third floor. Her departure will be a great loss to Kansas City. But, as usual, she’s going where she believes God wants her to be.”

While Gray will miss her co-workers, she feels strongly that she needs to spend time with her mother, noting, “I prayed on this decision.”

“I always said this was the best beat at the newspaper,” she added with a chuckle.  “It’s the only beat where people were praying for me.  That doesn’t happen on the political beat!”

Gray started out as a general assignment reporter at the Star and became the paper’s religion editor in 1971. During her carer she has covered faith communities, issues and trends and has been honored with numerous awards.

In 2008 she was presented with the “Christian Service Award by Richard Bott of the Bott Radio Network “For Faithful Life Long Service to Kansas City and all God’s Children.”

She was highlighted in a 2008 story by co-worker Robert Butler after it was revealed that she dated the late, great Syracuse football player Ernie Davis.

Her husband was the Reverend David L. Gray of Pleasant Green Baptist Church in KCK, who died several years ago while on the pulpit. In fact, the church’s address is: 340 David L. Gray Dr.

12 Responses

  1. Rick Nichols says:

    BEST WISHES
    Best wishes for the future, Helen, and I’ll leave it at that.

  2. CLOSEST THING TO A SAINT
    Helen is the closest thing to a saint that any newsroom has ever had. In the midst of a gritty stew of anxiety, hand wringing, newsroom politics and back biting, Helen presented a picture of peace and goodwill when she would occasionally drift into the second-floor newsroom from her third-floor office.

    If anyone was not going to get laid off, it was Helen.

    Her departure will be a great loss to Kansas City. But, as usual, she’s going where she believes God wants her to be.

    P.S. We’re lucky to have her with us. On one occasion many years ago, a crazy woman whom Helen was trying to help attacked her with a knife. Screaming for help from heaven, Helen was able to fight the woman off and sustained only minor injuries…She’s a powerhouse in many ways.

  3. Also says:

    ADD METRO DESK’S BILL DALTON TO LIST
    Good luck Helen! Also you can mark down longtime metro desk editor Bill Dalton as heading for the exits. He just up and retired.

    So if people see a way out of Captain Fannin’s Sinking Star, they’re going to get out.

  4. Bob Gould says:

    JOY TO WORK WITH
    Helen was a joy to work with. She will be missed at Ye Olde Star.

  5. Pat Carlson says:

    GOD BLESS, HELEN
    God bless you, Helen.

    You did an incredible job! You always treated me fairly. Thank you.

  6. Mike Waller says:

    OUTSTANDING SINCE DAY ONE
    Helen has been an outstanding religion writer from Day One and terrific to work with. It’s great to see her going out on her own terms.

  7. LAST STRAW FOR DALTON
    I think Dalton’s been looking for the door for several years but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Bormann-Dillon deal probably was the last straw.

    Dalton has been a top-notch editor and reporter. He was the first to expose the Municipal Court judges for what most of them are — feather-bedders. (Apologies to Mike McAdam, a fine judge and tremendous person.)

    Dalton’s series was called “McJustice.”

  8. jmhaney says:

    SWEETHEART
    Just a sweetheart. She was always smiling and always gracious.

  9. FORMER COLLEAGUE
    Helen was wonderful to work with,and just to talk to. Getting to know her was one of the best aspects of working at the Kansas City Star.

  10. Dore Dad says:

    REVELATIONS MORE SAD THAN FUNNY
    “Editor Darryl Levings will assume her duties, and the paper will continue to have a Faith Section.”

    I’m sure there’s a joke or two waiting to be written about the revelations contained in this quote, but I can’t quite form the words.

    Maybe that’s because at the end of the day these revelations are more sad than funny.

  11. Michelle Farmer says:

    A CONSUMMATE PROFESIONAL
    I work for a public relations firm whose clients are faith-based organizations and causes. Helen was always the consummate professional to work with. We will miss her and wish her Godspeed as she follows His call to honor her mother in her twilight years.

  12. Debbie White Schaack says:

    THINKING OF HELEN
    Hi Helen! Been thinking of you on the aniversary of our 50th SU grad. Will keep trying to find you in NJ

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