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Eugene Kray, educator who helped found Delaware County Community College, dies at 85

Dr. Kray was a man who liked to create educational opportunities for adult college learners. Once the programs were in place, he offered them at satellite sites throughout suburban Philadelphia.

Eugene J. Kray
Eugene J. KrayRead moreCourtesy of the Kray Family

Eugene J. Kray, 85, of West Goshen Township, an educator who was instrumental in creating Delaware County Community College, died Friday Oct. 9, of complications from an earlier fall, at Wellington at Hershey’s Mill, an assisted-living facility in West Chester.

In 1967, he moved from New Jersey, his home state, to help in the formation of the county college. At first, he arranged for classes to be held at area high schools and at a former school for the blind. Later, the college had the resources to build at its current site on South Media Line Road in Media.

His daughter Lisa Mita said her father’s doctoral thesis at Nova Southeastern University focused on experiential learning, a practice in which adults are given credit for knowledge acquired on the job as they pursue advanced education.

He was able to get the work-credit program approved in the college curriculum as well as a police training program, Mita said. He became the college’s first dean of continuing education, a post he held until 1985.

“He really developed the college from infancy into what it is now,” Mita said.

In 1985, he went to West Chester University as dean of adult learners. A year later, Dr. Kray announced the establishment of off-campus centers in Coatesville and Upper Darby for adult continuing-education students.

“There is an identifiable need for those people seeking the convenience of an education in a noncollege environment,” he told the Daily Times in 1987. The courses were to be taught by West Chester professors at the same cost per credit as courses given on campus, Dr. Kray told the newspaper.

In August 1987, he announced the opening of day and evening classes in new facilities at the Exton Corporate Center in West Whiteland Township.

“The new facility will continue a long and proud tradition of offering quality education at an affordable price, but with a twist,” Dr. Kray told the Daily Times. “Through the center, we are taking education to the people, rather than requiring them to come to the campus.”

During his career in education, he served as a consultant to numerous universities, state school systems, and national testing agencies.

Born to Anthony and Jean Kray in Jersey City, N.J., he graduated from Henry Snyder High School. Dr. Kray earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, a master’s degree from Seton Hall University in South Orange, and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In 1991, Nova University inducted him into its Practitioners Hall of Fame. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Adult and Continuing Education (PAACE), and its president in 1985 and 1986. Two years later, PAACE recognized him as the “Outstanding Adult Educator of the Year.”

In 1983, he was honored as the “Person of the Year” by the National Council on Community Services and Continuing Education, of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Dr. Kray was a member of the West Chester Lions Club and volunteered at the West Chester Senior Center. In 1992, he was president of what is now the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce and he served for many years on the board of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry.

He was a saltwater fisherman, trolling the waters off Cape May, Bermuda, Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, Costa Rica, Alaska, Florida, and the Great Barrier Reef. “He loved fishing,” his daughter said.

In 1992, he helped form the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and served for three years as its chairman. Dr. Kray served for eight years on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and for 10 years on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, managing fisheries as the Pennsylvania representative.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 60 years, Maureen Newsham; a son, Kevin; and four grandchildren. A brother died earlier.

Services were private. Memorial donations may be made to the West Chester Lions Club, attn: Michael G. Louis, 17 W. Miner St., West Chester, Pa. 19382.