Advertisement

It's A Gray Area: Never waste an opportunity with family

August 26, 2011|By James P. Gray

The first sentence in the preface of my book that attempts to help new judges "learn the ropes" says, "The best decision I have ever made was in choosing my parents." That is true because they always gave me stability, boundaries, stimulation and love. But I also believe that my successful "choice" gave me a moral obligation to help those people who had not "chosen" quite so well.

My wonderful mother, Elizabeth Polin Gray, was always my biggest fan and supporter. But she was a success story in her own right. Mom was raised in San Luis Obispo with four siblings by "old school" parents who believed that, after graduating from high school, girls who did not get married and begin raising a family should either become secretaries or sales clerks.

Nevertheless, Mom was able to graduate from UC Berkeley, mostly by staying at school during the summers because she had no assurance that if she came home, she would ever be able to return to school. She also was the personification of the old saying that behind every successful husband is a supportive wife. For example, when my father was the president of the State Bar of California, my mother was an integral part of the inevitable social and political demands that accompany such a venture.

Advertisement

My wonderful father, William P. Gray, was a self-made man. In fact, he was the living refutation of the old saying that "familiarity breeds contempt." The more exposure people had to my father, the greater respect was engendered (except regarding his golf game).

After high school and during the Great Depression, he made four trips across the Pacific as a cadet with the Dollar Steamship Co. to help his parents out financially. This experience was quite traumatic for a young man who had been raised in a conservative Baptist environment, but also quite broadening. After that he put himself through UCLA and then through Harvard Law School.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|