David Gray and son Ken Gray ( Photo courtesy Bushwick Commission Co. Inc.; graphic by Amelia Freidline )

David Gray, who was active in the potato industry for more than 60 years, and the former co-president of the Bushwick Commission Co., Farmingdale, N.Y., died on July 3 in Delray Beach, Fla.

Gray, who was battling cancer, was 81.

In September 1960, when he was 22, Gray began his career in the industry, joining brother-in-law Jack Hyman, and father-in-law Jack Koondel at Bushwick, helping bring it to a new level of growing, packing and shipping potatoes, according to his son, Ken Gray, vice president of sales and marketing at Bushwick Commission.

David Gray and Hyman, as the third generation at the company, strengthened local growing operations and distribution to serve customers throughout the U.S.

“My Dad, David, really loved the produce and potato business, developing such strong relationships with our growers, customers and transportation teams,” Ken Gray said in a statement. “He leaves us with such a proud legacy that I feel so lucky to be a part of.”

As a member of the Bushwick Commission’s fourth generation, Ken Gray said he follows his father’s cues on honesty and integrity he instilled throughout the company.

“Qualities such as leadership, strength, courage, compassion, empathy for others, the meaning of kindness, and giving to others who are less fortunate are just a handful of the gifts he bestowed on us all,” Ken Gray said in the statement. “He taught me what mattered most in the produce industry: Your word was your bond.”

David Gray was a lifelong member of the Eastern Produce Council. He was active in charities including the Cerebral Palsy Farmer’s Market Food Drive and Play for PINK  (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) breast cancer research.  

Donations in his memory may be sent to Dr. Eileen O’Reilly’s pancreatic cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at https://giving.mskcc.org/, or via check, payable to MSKCC, at MKCC Development Office P.O. Box 27106 New York, NY, 10087.