Love Paves the Way for Dr. John Gray

A chance encounter as a young man pays great dividends to the northern Nevada community. 

John Gray walked along the sidewalk of the campus of UNLV alone. The son of a military family, he left his parents behind on Kwajalein, unable to bear the confinement of the one-mile by three-mile island in the middle of the south Pacific any longer. It’s 1968, he’s 17 years old and he is in Vegas to see about a girl.

Dr. John Gray with his now wife Shelley at their Junior Prom in 1967.

Dr. John Gray with his now wife Shelly at their Junior Prom in 1967.

“She was a girlfriend that I had met at my father’s previous duty station,” says Dr. John Gray, MD, gastroenterologist at GI Consultants. “I knew she was going to school in Las Vegas, and I just had to find her.”

It is funny how life is affected by chance meetings. Dr. Gray’s was. The boy chanced upon the Dean of Students that day, and after telling the dean his story he was offered a scholarship. It was a meeting that led Dr. Gray to medical school at UNR, eventually graduating from Washington University in St. Louis.

“I fell in love with northern Nevada while I was in med school here. It really is one of the greatest places in the world,” continues Dr. Gray. “It has everything — skiing, biking, hiking — but most of all it is the people, the small-town atmosphere that I love.”

It was that small-town atmosphere that helped Dr. Gray bring significant innovations to the way gastrointestinal medicine is practiced in northern Nevada. It allowed him to form relationships with key partners in the Reno area that could make a difference.

“If I were to practice in L.A., I would have a hard time making a difference,” says Dr. Gray. “However, here in Reno the close-knit feel makes it much easier to influence the way things are done.”

Among Dr. Gray’s proudest accomplishments is the creation of the Renown Institute for Digestive and Liver Care. The Institute brings a team concept to the treatment of digestive conditions. He also created the Nevada Colon Cancer Partnership. Since its founding, the partnership has dramatically increased colon cancer screenings, which in turn has increased the survivability of colon cancer diagnoses in the region.

Due to these significant accomplishments Dr. Gray is being honored this year with the Arthur J. Lurie, MD,  Distinguished Physician award.  Dr. Gray will be recognized for his innovations in medicine and his contributions to the northern Nevada community at Renown Health Foundation’s annual gala, Magic 2014, which benefits Renown Children’s Hospital. Underlying his accomplishments and service in medicine is his love for the community.

“Nevada has been very good to me. It was a great place to raise my family and build my career.”

And the girl he flew to Vegas to meet? Dr. Gray and Shelly have two daughters, three grandkids and have been married 40 years this August.

One Response to “Love Paves the Way for Dr. John Gray”

  1. Phylleen Jackson says:

    This is precious in every detail. And heaven knows I love a happy ending! Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for sharing your family, and your friendship. all this enriches my life significantly. With aloha, Phylleen

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