Our beloved Brandon Jared Gray died Sept. 16, 2019, as an apparent result of an overdose. Because drug overdoses in our society are at an epidemic level, toxicology results won’t be available for 12 to 14 weeks. He was 38 years old. Brandon always spoke of wanting to give back and help others, so if his life and how it ended can offer help to someone, we wanted to share it.
Brandon was born in Sayre, Pennsylvania on May 15, 1981, the son of Donald G. Gray and Leslie Farber Fillnow. Brandon attended Waverly High School in Waverly, New York. He spent a lot of his adult life in Elmira, New York. Brandon had many attempts at attending college; his addiction kept him from achieving his goal of becoming a nurse. He did complete his training as a CNA. Brandon enjoyed snowboarding, hiking, science fiction, cooking, soccer and soap making – and will always be remembered for his intelligent mind that sometimes took him places we could not understand, charming personality, kindness to animals and welcoming smile.
Unfortunately, he will also be remembered as a statistic and a “drug addict.” Along Brandon’s journey, he started using drugs and always felt he was in control. Brandon’s family and friends truly loved him and tried to be supportive as he struggled with addiction. He fought fiercely for years.
All Brandon wanted was a normal life with a family, free from the chains of addiction. Even though his story came to a sad ending, if a life can be saved because of his being lost, his goal of helping others will carry on. For those of you that excommunicate an addict, think again: have boundaries, but reach out to them safely, with an “I love you” text, “you’re important to me” phone call, a letter in jail. You never know when that one word, that one sentence, that one moment might change their mind.
We had the gift of talking to Brandon the day before he died and we told him how much we loved him and he returned by saying he loved us. My last text to him was after he sent me a picture of his friend’s ferret named “ Wheez.” I wrote, “That is what I like about you, your love for animals,” his response was, “Awe thanks, mom. It’s definitely one of my better qualities.”
Brandon was preceded in death by his grandmother, Gloria Gray; grandfathers, Donald C. Gray, and Bill Kuehner; his aunt, Janet Gray; and his dog “Tara,” whom he named after the Buddhist Green Goddess of mother nature.
He is survived by his parents, Leslie Farber and Robert J. Fillnow and Donald G. and Terri Gray; brothers, Dustin Bluen Gray, Dane Thetga, Garrett Foster and JR Shelnutt III; sisters, Burgandy Gray, Nikki Keeney; maternal grandfather, Robert Farber; maternal grandmother, Beatrice Galterio Kuehner; aunts, Jacqueline Siragusa, Rene Matzko, Michelle Garro, Roberta Farber, Elizabeth Cochran, Anne Gray and Geralyn (Dee Dee) Gorczyca; uncles, Joe Matzko, Mickey Garro, Roy Siragusa, Timothy Gray, Jamie Gray, Robert Cochran and Doug Fillnow; cousins, who loved him always, Brittany Wine, Justin Wine, Joseph Matzko, Michael Garro, Amy Garro, Nicole Garro, Gwen Lipps, Megan Mrkonja, Timothy Cochran, Micaela Cochran, Robert Cochran, Caitlin Landry, Josh Gorczyca and Jacob Gorczyca.
Special mention, a very close friend, Marlowe Lowe, who loved him through the best of times and the worst of times. She has been able to help us mourn the loss of our son with good memories.
A memorial service will be held for Brandon at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at the First Congregational Church Of Camden, located at 55 Elm St, Camden, ME 04843. His ashes will be put in a resting place with Tara, his chocolate labrador retriever’s ashes, who died in January 2019 of old age. In lieu of flowers please donate to your local Humane Society in his name. Bradford County Humane Society: http://members.petfinder.com/~PA19/donate.html.