George M. Gray, M. D. There is hardly a more eminent physician and surgeon in the State of Kansas than Dr. George M. Gray, of Kansas City, Kansas. He is ex-president of the Kansas State Medical Society, a member of the American Medical Association, and has been accorded the honor of a fellowship in the American College of Surgeons. In 1915 Governor Capper appointed him a member of the State Board of Medical Registration and Examination for Kansas and he is now president of the board. Doctor Gray has been in active practice at Kansas City, Kansas, for more than thirty-five years, and for the greater part of that time has been head of the staff of St. Margaret’s Hospital.
His attainments and the service he has rendered in his profession are not the only distinctions to be associated with his name. Doctor Gray is properly considered as the father of the park and boulevard system of Kansas City, Kansas. For years he has worked and planned for an adequate system of driveways and parks, and many of the ideas of the project now being put into execution originated in his mind.
In March, 1907, the Kansas Legislature passed the law giving Kansas City, Kansas, authority to organize a park board, and permitting the board to levy special taxes for a park and boulevard system. A test was made of the law, and it was declared constitutional by the supreme court. When the law went into effect Mr. Gray was serving as mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, and that position gave him the authority to appoint the first park board. His appointees were Dr. S. S. Glasscock, James Sullivan and J. P. Angle. A little later Doctor Glasscock resigned and was succeeded by Doctor Gray as a member of the board. Through all the various steps connected with the original legislation, the organization of the board, and the inauguration of its constructive plans, Doctor Gray’s influence was everywhere apparent. He and his fellow members of the board secured the services of one of the most eminent landscape engineers in the country, George E. Kessler, and according to plans drawn up by him the work was started in 1909. It is still in progress, and it is estimated that ten or more years will be required for the completion of the ambitious plans formulated at the beginning. The original park board continued their jurisdiction over the work until this board was supplanted by the commission form of government.
Doctor Gray is a son of the late Rasselas M. Gray and a nephew of Alfred Gray, both of whom were prominent pioneers in Kansas City, Kansas. Alfred Gray, who was born in Erie County, New York, December 5, 1830, a son of Isaiah and May (Morgan) Gray, was well educated in academies of the east, was graduated in law at Albany in 1854, practiced for a time at Buffalo, and in March, 1857, arrived in Kansas, settling at old Quindaro, which was one of the original starting points in the development of the present City of Kansas City, Kansas. He was a farmer there from 1858 until 1873, and in 1872 was elected the first secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, and formulated the plans and laid the foundation for the magnificent work since carried on by that organization. He had previously served from 1866 to 1870 as a director of the State Agricultural Society. Alfred Gray was secretary of agriculture until his death on January 23, 1880. During the war both he and his brother had served in the Union army. Alfred became regimental quartermaster of the Fourth Kansas Regiment in April, 1862, and later was transferred to the Tenth and subsequently to the Fifth Regiment. He had served as a member of the first state legislature of Kansas, having been elected December 6, 1859. Some years ago the state erected a monument to his memory in the Topeka Cemetery.
Rasselas M. Gray was also a native of Erie County, New York, was one of the early free state men in the territory of Kansas, and settled at Quindaro in 1858. He was one of the last to desert that town, which had so many interesting associations with early territorial days. He lived there until the death of his wife in 1899, being both a farmer and a merchant. After that he lived at the home of a daughter in Kansas City, Kansas, and died March 11, 1911, at the age of eighty-eight years. He was survived by two sons and one daughter, and also by fourteen grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Dr. George M. Gray was born at Waukegan, Illinois, March 4, 1856, a son of Rasselas M. and Susan (Doust) Gray. He was educated in the public schools of Wyandotte County, and at the age of nineteen was working as a clerk in a drug store in Kansas City, Missouri. He aspired to a professional career, studied medicine under Dr. E. W. Shauffler in Kansas City, Missouri, and then took a course in the old College of Physicians and Surgeons of Kansas City. He was graduated in 1879, and then entered Bellevue Hospital Medical College of New York City, where he received a diploma in 1880.
From the time of his graduation Doctor Gray has been continuously in practice both in medicine and surgery, and besides his connection with the local hospitals and his large private practice he has always exerted a strong influence in behalf of adequate health and sanitary laws in his city and state and has been prominent in the making of a great medical school in connection with the University of Kansas.
He is vice president of the Peoples National Bank of Kansas City, is a charter member and the president of the River View State Bank and president of the Security State Bank. He is a member of all the Masonie bodies, and is a republican in politics. In 1907-8 he served as president of the Mereantile Club. While president of this club he had the satisfaction of seeing his ideas concerning a park and boulevard system incorporated into state law and made a part of the charter of the city.
Doctor Gray recalls the fact that when the old Town of Quindaro was laid out forty acres of ground within the city limits were laid out and designated for public parks. He believes, probably on good authority, that this was the first city in Kansas to be provided with grounds for public parks, and as a result of the activities of Rasselas Gray, his father, the land was kept in the original condition as laid out in 1856, and this will eventually become a part of the park and boulevard system of Kansas City, Kansas.
In 1881 he married Miss Caroline Harlan, of Kansas City, Missouri, a daughter of Minerva Harlan, widow of Howard Harlan. Mr. and Mrs. Gray are the parents of three children: Mary, who married Willard J. Breidenthal, a eashier of the Riverview State Bank, son of John W. Breidenthal, who was bank commissioner for two terms and at one time a candidate for governor on the populist ticket; Ruth M., the second daughter, married Thomas M. Van Chave a lawyer of the firm of McAnany & Alden and at the present time assistant city counselor; George, the only son is at present attending the Kansas University with the intention of taking up the study of medicine.