Ex-alderman vows: I'm alive
BRAY Gray thought she'd better point out that she's not yet dead.
In fact, if she says so herself, she's "not bad for an old girl". And The Morning Bulletin is delighted to report it after publishing a letter earlier this month which referred to her as the "late Alderman Bray Gray".
"I didn't like that. I hate being late and I hate being kept waiting," says Bray, who served 18 consecutive years on Rockhampton City Council from 1972 with a collection of aldermen, many of whom have departed to the great debating chamber in the sky.
She'll be 87 on Boxing Day and cares for herself at her house in Wandal where she's an avid reader and watcher of news.
In her heyday she was a pioneering woman. Her husband, George, who was the Federal Member for Capricornia for six years, died within a year of the birth of her youngest child and Bray juggled being a housewife, public servant, chairman of the health committee and lone parent to two small children.
"Being on the council was considered part-time and it paid very little. There were no concessions either. We got no phone or car allowance and often it cost me money to perform the role.
"We had successful business people, two doctors, a dentist and all of them lost a lot of money to give up their time to the council. We did it because we felt we could make a contribution."
Asked what she thought of the job the current regional council was doing she smiled, shook her head and said: "no comment."
A life-long member of the ALP, Bray says the council was very political during her time.
The city's larger-than-life mayor, Rex Pilbeam, came from the opposite side of the political spectrum, but she remembers their relationship fondly.
"I always got on with him. There were not really any big political rows. It was all very polite and proper. "
Born in Sydney, Bray came to Rockhampton 50 years ago and didn't like it.
"It was a backwater. I thought I would only stay a year because I didn't think much of the place, but I got involved in organisations and then into politics and I came to like it. As an alderman you work to change things and we tried to modernise the city. It was a bit backward, but it's catching up with the times now."
So what about her unusual Christian name? It turns out she was born Elsa Noelene Braham Stratton and Bray is a corruption of her third given name, a family nickname that stuck.
Very much alive is former Alderman Bray Gray.
"We did it because we felt we could make a contribution."