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World War II Veteran Receives Diploma

By Staff | Feb 11, 2018

Pictured is Veteran Carloss Gray receiving his honorary diploma from Wetzel County Superintendent Ed Toman (center) and Wetzel County Board of Education Board Member Bill Jones. (Photos by Kristen Keller)

PADEN CITY — A special graduation ceremony was held Saturday at Paden City High School to honor 90-year-old veteran Carloss Gray. Gray left high school to serve his country during World War II. A large crowd gathered to watch as he received his honorary diploma.

Gray currently resides with his daughter Sandra Rollyson in Vienna, but is a native of Paden City. While in the Navy, he served for almost two years on the destroyer ship, the USS Howard F. Clark DE 533. The primary purpose of this ship was to escort and protect ships in convoy as well as other tasks assigned.

After the Navy, Gray lived a very active lifestyle. He worked at Paden City Pottery and eventually moved on to Rich Loaf Bakery where he was well known as the Rich Loaf Bread Man. Gray is a former Constable of Tyler County and volunteered for the Paden City Fire Department. He was an elder in the Christian Church and is a lifetime member of the American Legion and VFW.

The ceremony was first put into the works after Gray’s daughter, Sandra Rollyson, contacted Superintendent Ed Toman.

From there, Toman reached out to PCHS Principal Jay Salva who organized the ceremony.

Pictured is Carloss Gray's family -- granddaughter-in-law Keri Berdine, daughter Sandra Rollyson, grandson Rick Berdine, Gray, grandson Jeff Berdine and his fiance Jill Thacker.

Salva became a huge admirer of Gray through the wonderful stories Rollyson shared about her dad. He spoke of this admiration during the ceremony.

“I’ve never met Carloss Gray until today. I’ve communicated with his daughter Sandra Rollyson and the way she speaks about her father is like the man can walk on water. She is so proud of her father, and I admire that. Everyone wants to be admired for something in their life. And it so happened from talking to Sandie that I immediately admired Carloss Gray,” Salva remarked.

Salva went on to say that he also admired that Gray was a family man.

Carloss and his wife were married for 70 years. In 1996, she had a cerebral hemorrhage that left her paralyzed. Instead of having a home-health nurse, Gray cared for her even going as far as applying her make-up and painting her nails to make her feel beautiful.

Also speaking during the ceremony was family friend Pat Stillwagner.

Destiny Harrison sings the United States National Anthem.

“A veteran — whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserved — is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of up to and including his life. Carloss Gray has done this for his country. He did not get to graduate with his class because he went into the service at a time when our country needed him and others like him. They put their country first and their needs last,” Stillwagner said.

After receiving his diploma, Gray visited with friends and family.

When asked his feelings on the ceremony, and what he enjoyed — “All the people that came to see me today,” he replied with a beaming smile and a sparkle in his eye.

Family friend Pat Stillwagner speaks about Carloss Gray during the 90-year-old veteran's graduation ceremony.