Dennis Gray, a local Vietnam veteran, will be honored for a final time Wednesday at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Higginsville thanks to the help of the Pettis County Coroner’s Office.
“He died alone and when we found out he was a veteran, we thought he should receive a proper burial,” said Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith.
Gray, 65, was found Dec. 6 in his apartment on Liberty Park Boulevard and was transported to Bothwell Regional Health Center where he apparently died due to a cardiac event, according to Smith.
Smith said after Gray died, members of his office went through Gray’s personal property and discovered his Army discharge papers. Smith said his office made every attempt to find any relatives, but was unable to find anyone who would claim Gray’s remains and give him a proper burial.
“We had a hard time finding his records. It was hard finding out who he was,” Smith said. “We think he has a daughter, but we can’t find where she is.”
Word of Gray’s death spread quickly through the community via social media and people wanted to to share his story and make sure he wasn’t forgotten.
Greg Johns, of Sedalia, said Monday he was a friend of Gray’s.
“He was a great guy,” Johns said. “He was the type of man who said what he thought.”
Johns said Gray was definitely in the Army and served in Vietnam because Gray often told Johns stories about his service. Johns said he knew Gray for about a year.
When Gray died, Johns and people who lived in Gray’s apartment complex and knew Gray hosted their own memorial service to honor Gray’s life.
Gray will be laid to rest at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Higginsville, located on Business Highway 13 in Higginsville. The service is open to the public and Smith said several local veterans will be attending the service.
Anyone who knows where Gray’s relatives may be can contact the Coroner’s Office at email@example.com.
Reach Tim Epperson at 660-530-0146.