Memorial Services for 65-year old Carmen Addison-Gray are Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at 9:00 at the Eagle Nest CAP Office in Wanblee, SD.
Burial follows at 2:30 at the Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis, SD
A one-night wake service starts Tuesday, Nov 23, at 4:00, also at the Eagle Nest CAP Office in Wanblee, SD
“You never give up on people”
Carmen Theresa Gray, non-traditional psychology and nursing student, mother, wife, grandmother, and sister, died two weeks short of her 66th birthday, on November 12th.
Carmen described herself as a full-blood Native American from the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Fort Washakie, WY. and the third oldest of 11 children. She was a devoted military wife, traveling all over the world as she raised her three children.
In her 30s and 40s, she worked in housekeeping at Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, GA. and at the Rapid City Regional Hospital in SD, which inspired her in 2011 to pursue a bachelor’s degree of Science in Nursing Degree to help Native American people.
As an older student, it excited Carmen to learn new things, shop for college books, adventure on campus, attend field trip assignments, and complete on-line classes from home.
She hoped to eventually reside near the Reservation or near an Indian Health Service hospital after completing her degree because she had a soft heart for her people.
Carmen also took care of both of her parents during their last days, as well as visiting her mother-in-law every Sunday for over a year before her in-law’s passing. She believed helping makes one feel better after the passing.
Prior to pursuing her degree, she enjoyed working in the field of home child-care for military parents, computer manufacturing at SCI in Rapid City, and housekeeping.
She was also proud of her brief work in fast food when she wanted to earn a little extra money for her family; she was happy they allowed her to wear a long dress as part of her uniform because wearing dresses was a part of her Christian faith.
She was a devoted Pentecostal church member and her faith defined who she was: a woman of kindness, forgiveness, and love.
Over her 35+ years of devotion to the Pentecostal church, she performed many acts of service, from cleaning church buildings from her residences in Japan, Georgia, and South Dakota, to initiated outreach programs, meetings, teaching Sunday school, and coordinating community church services.
She rented rooms in apartment buildings to have services and brought ministers from Georgia to a reservation in South Dakota to uplift the spirits of her people.
When asked what changes in the world she would make if she had the power, Carmen said she would decrease the amount of pollution so we and all our grandchildren could live longer and healthier lives.
In a college essay she wrote, “I believe the people who are happy in their later years have experienced many positive events in their lives and have no regrets. I did not believe I would reach this age and it seemed to happen so quickly.
I am happy being my age, with grandchildren, and being around my children. I want to work by caring for people and showing our people I care and that we can accomplish our goals if we are willing to work hard and be determined.”
During her pursuit of a degree in nursing, Carmen felt her life was already fulfilled. She said she was happy and content and had no regrets. She felt accomplished by raising good children and by being able to be with her beautiful grandchildren, nieces, nephews, family friends, and their children.
While attending GSU, in the city of Atlanta, she pushed her feet and body as hard as her spirit could take her. She had unknowingly pushed herself to complete her classes while health issues in her feet, legs, and other areas had formed.
When surgeries required her to miss a semester, she returned the next semester with full force and drive. During a philosophy class she was able to contemplate life and death, and she believed we should focus on the good things in our lives, and for her, the good things were being with and enjoying time with family.
Carmen loved shopping for gifts, clothes, and groceries for her loved ones, but over the last few years she learned about the difficult homeless situation in Atlanta through her research papers at GSU and her heart was touched again.
She cooked, gave food from her pantry, and purchased grocery delivery for two local homeless organizations in Atlanta. She refused to let anyone in her home throw away clothing and would find someone who needed it or call a clothing donation company to pick them up.
As a young mother, strangers were often surprised at how well behaved her three children were at home and in public. As her children grew older, she was proud of her accomplishments as a mother, as many could see the bond her family had.
She continued to connect a broader range of her family tree by beginning a family reunion in 2013. She was planning the next reunion for 2022 as well, with assistance from family and friends.
She often reached out to the younger family members on Facebook, introducing herself to extended family. The reunions connected an extended family tree line and continued to connect the people she loved.
Carmen is survived by her spouse, Charles H. Gray, Jr. of Atlanta, GA; daughter, Danielle Gray; sons, Shawn A. Wilde and Michael Rodney Gray; siblings, Celia Farley, Susan Spotted Bear, Alicia Lofton, David Black Crow, Angela Richards, Connie Lawrence, Joseph Black Crow, Justin Black Crow, Morgan Black Crow, Debbie Stauty, Jared Black Crow, Kato Stauty and Nadim Antar-Wilde; and stepmother, Anne Black Crow of Auburn, WA.
Carmen was preceded in death by her parents, Milo Black Crow, Sr. and Esther Addison; and siblings, Gary Black Crow, Aaron Black Crow, Milo Black Crow, Jr., Austin Black Crow, Allen Black Crow, Jesse Ketch-Black Crow, and Debra Black Crow.
Arrangements entrusted with Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge, SD