Women’s History Month: Remembering Mrs. Carl R. Gray
By Andrew Gogerty
Harriette Amanda Flora Gray (Mrs. Carl R. Gray, as she was known) was one of the most influential women in the history of our school. Her contributions as a teacher, director, and supporter of Omaha Bible Institute (OBI) in its early days of the 1920s cannot be overstated. She became nationally known through her radio broadcasts and became the first woman to ever have a nationwide radio Bible class. In 1937, she was chosen as the National Mother of the Year by the American Mothers Organization of New York, the organization through which Mother’s Day became a national holiday.
Born on September 17, 1869, in Verdigris, Kansas, God used her talents, her reputation, and her standing in society to bring credibility to OBI after its establishment in 1921. She was the wife of the president of the Union Pacific Railroad and was, at the time, regarded as “one of the four best Bible authorities in the United States” (The Living Word, Volume 7, May 1925).
Mrs. Gray was the “right-hand woman” of OBI’s founder, Dr. William H. Jordan. She was a confidant and true supporter of the work of OBI; he frequently leaned on her for advice and decision-making. With her connections to the Union Pacific Railroad, she helped provide free transportation for Dr. Jordan—a true gift from God considering the heavy amount of travel he was doing for the school.
In the early years of OBI, she was one of its most significant teachers. She was so well regarded that she was sought nationally, teaching courses from St. Paul, to Portland, to Baltimore, to class sizes of more than 200 people. Imagine the marketing impact that she was able to have on behalf of Omaha Bible Institute in its opening years. Not only was Mrs. Gray a great teacher at OBI, she, along with Mrs. E.B. Young, was also one of two female members of the original OBI Board of Directors.
Despite being a woman of wealth and fame, she was humble. Even in the midst of her busy speaking schedule and engagements, she could often be found in her spare time painting and cleaning the earliest classrooms and buildings on campus. She had a true servant’s heart. She faithfully taught Bible classes at First Baptist Church of Omaha every Sunday morning.
God used Mrs. Gray, her servant’s heart, and her talents and gifts to bring credibility to Omaha Bible Institute, which would eventually outgrow its capacity and move to Ankeny, Iowa, where it became Faith Baptist Bible College. She passed away on June 17, 1956, at the age of 86, but will forever be remembered as one of the “Women of Faith” in the history of our school. #Faith100