Barton Walter Gray, 60, of St. Cloud, MN, passed away peacefully on November 25, 2020 at Knute Nelson Hospice in Alexandria, MN. A beloved father, grandfather, brother, son, uncle, cousin, friend, and colleague, Barton was born in Fosston, MN, on September 2, 1960 on the night of their Barley Festival. He was promptly named the ‘Barley King Jr.’ of the entire festival. Barton was raised for a time in Biwabik, MN. Following a move, he spent the majority of his childhood in Cloquet, MN, graduating from Cloquet High School as a musician and three-sport letterman in 1979. A 1983 graduate of the Univ. of North Dakota, Barton played baseball for the Fighting Sioux, earning a degree in Education and going on to become a respected teacher and coach in the communities he served, following in the footsteps of his father and grandparents. Barton went on to earn a Master’s Degree from St. Cloud State University in Special Education. Barton began teaching in Enderlin, ND, and served the bulk of his career in the St. Cloud, MN school district, where he was known for his wit, dry sense of humor, and caring mentorship of his elementary students over a 32 year career - ultimately retiring in 2018.
Barton was an exceptional athlete, leading his teammates as a baseball catcher, hockey goaltender, and football quarterback for the Cloquet Lumberjacks, and continued to play baseball on scholarship with the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota U! As the family historian, he was an avid collector of photographs, antiques and memorabilia. He was adored by his ‘Sackett’ brothers, who always knew they were rightly competing for second place as the favorite in the eyes of their parents! He was a wonderful father, creating countless memories for his children by supporting their activities and taking them on spectacular family vacations. Barton’s ability to shepherd his own three children and the children of others cannot be understated. Barton exuded the qualities every aspiring parent would hope to have in raising and teaching children: kindness, patience, humor, and most of all unwavering love. His legacy will live on through all the lives he has touched over the years. Barton passed away after bravely fighting Lewy Body Dementia for five years, yet he never failed to continue expressing his love of family and maintain his witty sense of humor through it all.
Survivors include his three cherished children, daughters Hona (Kevin) Koep and Maddie (Luke) Elliott of Alexandria, and son Cooper Walter Gray of the Univ. of Minnesota in St. Paul; precious grandchildren twins Katherine and Elizabeth Koep, and Soren Elliott; five dear brothers, Kevin, Mark (Florence), Collin (Erin), Jeffrey (Marci) and Corey (Kathy); his Aunt Barbara (and late Donald) Klick; dozens of cherished cousins, nieces and nephews with whom he grew up and celebrated at many ‘cousin reunions’ over the years; and, numerous lifelong friends and colleagues. He is preceded in death by his loving parents, Zane & Joanne Gray; Grandparents Rueben & Gladys Gray and namesake Walter & Irene Klick; and many aunts and uncles of the greatest American generation. A private service will be held on December 12 in Alexandria. A memorial service will be held at Atonement Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, MN during the summer of 2021 to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials in his name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), Luther Crest Bible Camp (Alexandria), or Atonement Lutheran Church (St. Cloud).