On November 14, 1931, Alvin Parker Gray (1853-1931), in his second term as mayor of Pasco, suffers a heart attack and dies at the age of 78 in a Pasco hospital. News reports call him the town's oldest pioneer and best known citizen. He has lived in the area since 1882, before Pasco even existed.
Alvin Parker Gray was born in Maine in 1853 and came to what is now the Pasco area in 1882 to supply timbers for the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Gray and his brother built a sawmill in Ainsworth, the precursor to Pasco, the Northern Pacific's construction camp. Gray and his brother felled trees near the headwaters of the Yakima and floated timbers downstream to Ainsworth.
After Pasco was established in 1885, Gray opened a mercantile store. A fire in 1897 wiped out the store, but he rebuilt it. He and his wife ran the store until 1926, when they retired.
He then devoted himself to public service and was in his second term as mayor when he died. Earlier in 1931, he had "attained international fame," according to his obituary, when he and a group of American mayors were invited by the French government to tour that country. Gray, the oldest mayor in America according to some reports, was elected chairman and "was a favorite of everyone" ("Mayor").
During the height of the Great Depression in 1930 and 1931, he personally supervised Pasco's "Hotel De Gink" -- the slang name for transient lodging, named after Seattle's original Hotel De Gink. Gray contributed "much of the money needed out of his own pocket" ("Mayor").