The European Tour has paid tribute to Northern Irishman Tony Gray, a former Director of Tour Operations and European Seniors Tour Managing Director, who died last week aged 77.
The tribute from the European Tour group reads:
From Northern Ireland, Gray was an integral part of the European Tour during its infancy in the early 1970s, working closely alongside John Jacobs OBE and George O’Grady, who would go on to become the European Tour group’s second Chief Executive Officer.
A much-respected figure at the Tour, Gray served as a mentor to a number of referees who have worked with the group over the years, including former Chief Referee John Paramor, who joined the Tour two years after Gray.
He acted as the Tour’s first Director of Tour Operations before becoming the then-European Seniors Tour Managing Director.
O’Grady, who was the European Tour group’s Chief Executive from 2005 to 2015, said: “One of Tony’s biggest strengths was that he got on with people so well. When he went to different tournaments and different countries, the role he played with federations in Europe was so important; his personality was his strength.
“Wherever he went, he was liked enormously. I’ve had a number of messages from people saying how professional he was and that nobody had a bad word to say about him. We were very close friends, and my thoughts are with his family at this time.”
John Paramor, former Chief Referee at the European Tour group, who joined the Tour in 1976, said: “I trained under Tony and George O’Grady, and Tony was a mentor to me. We really regarded him as the father of the Tour’s officials.
“He was the sort of guy who you would go to with an impossible question and he would always be able to come up with an answer. He would take it away, deliberate about it, sometimes for some time, but at the end he would give you an answer and it would work. He would always find the correct solution or the best way out of a problem.
“He introduced a lot of systems and policies that we use and a number of those are still in place. They are good policies and I based all of my working life on what I’d learned from Tony. He was just a great guy to be with both socially and in a working capacity. I am very sad to hear of his passing and my thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”
Tony is survived by his wife Amanda.
Both Tony and Amanda were well-known as being consummate hosts. They always kept their doors open, and the welcome extended to colleagues throughout Europe and beyond who stayed with them and enjoyed their hospitality. For them, the Tour was much more than Tony’s job; it forged cherished and enduring friendships.
A service of thanksgiving will be held in Tony’s memory at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Deddington on Saturday January 15, 2022 at 14:30.