Obituary – Dorita Gray


Dorita L. Gray (Whelan)

December 7, 1956 – May 5, 2023

Dorita L. Gray (Whelan) of Ferndale, passed away at Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham on May 5, 2023. She was born on December 7, 1956 in Fort Collins, Colorado to Jonathan and Aili Whelan, joining three brothers, Denny, Don and Dean and two sisters, Debbie and Danette.

Dorita graduated from Poudre High School (Go Impalas!) in Fort Collins and, after working for a year, began her studies at Western Washington University (Go Vikings!) majoring in industrial design.

In her freshman year at WWU, she met a young music education major named Bob Gray; they started dating, became a couple, enjoyed college, and were married on June 27, 1981 in Seattle. Six weeks later, Bob started teaching in the Blaine School District and Dorita began her wonderful, creative pursuit of a more artful community.

Dorita was a bright, engaging woman, quick with a smile and a positive word. She was passionate and emotional; maybe a tad opinionated and not shy about sharing. Dorita was a talented, innovative artist creating mostly hand-built porcelain and stoneware jewelry. In the 1980s, she served as a volunteer administrator for Allied Arts of Whatcom County, she sat on numerous arts boards, she was an integral member of the Blaine Fine Arts Association for decades, and she was a primary organizer for the BFAA’s “Arts & Jazz!” celebration. Dorita was also the best ever school band volunteer, chaperone, fundraiser, supporter, etc.; a “Band Mom” for many in our crazy, loving Band Family at Blaine High School (Go Borderites!).

Dorita loved her dogs; Marcus, Jackson and Henry – 40 years of golden retrievers! She loved looking at the stars, especially the Perseid meteor shower in August. She loved road trips with Bob, for many years to Colorado and then anywhere in the Northwest looking for new routes and roads. Dorita loved her family and friends, she thoroughly enjoyed the many visitors who came to share their hearts during her 42 days in hospice. And Dorita loved Bob and he loved her. Dorita was proud of her Finnish heritage and worked daily to embody the Finnish concept of Sisu – to exhibit strength and dogged perseverance when faced with difficulties or hardships. Dorita’s strength and positive attitude while seeking answers on this long, difficult walk with cancer are a true inspiration.

Dorita is preceded in death by her parents, Jonathan and Aili Whelan; her father-in-law, Bob Gray Sr.; her brothers Denny, Don and Dean Whelan; and her brother-in-law, Bob Comegys. Dorita is survived by her husband of 41 years, Bob Gray; her sisters Debbie Comegys of Severance, Colorado and Danette Gardner (Doyle) of Fort Collins; her mother- and sister-in-law Donna Gray and Sharon Gray of Lake Stevens, Washington; and her numerous Whelan and Gray cousins, nieces and nephews.

Dorita and Bob, as well as Donna, Sharon, Debbie and Danette, and all of our extended Blaine family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Whatcom Hospice House for their attentive assistance and loving care during Dorita’s stay. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to either the Blaine Fine Arts Association in Blaine, Washington or Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington. A Celebration of Life for Dorita is planned for this summer, date and time to be announced.