1996 Gold Medal Team

Standing, L to R: Garvin Martin, Andy Gray, Showalter Martin, Andy Savland, Lance Giese. Kneeling, L to R: Albert Hinchman, Luke Johnson, Russell Dick, Louie White, John Martin, Jr. Standing, back row, left: NBA All Star Jamaal Wilkes

Bobby Gray

When asked who he looked up to growing up in Hoonah, Bobby Gray responded “Johnnie Hinchman- he was a top fisherman, basketball player, coach and seemed to have the best boat in town.  Also my granddad, who raised me.”

Bobby was in the infantry in 1963.  An article in the Sitka Sentinel mentioned that he won a medal for hand to hand fighting when he was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.  “I was ready to go to the Cuban conflict, even made my last call home.  Then I got a hardship discharge.”

Bobby is a noted basketball coach and player.  He coached many winning Gold Medal teams and Hall of Fame recipients.  “I learned a lot about basketball from Pat Ness and Mo Johnson in Sitka.  I played with Paul Rudolph- he always seemed to bounce the ball to me at the right time.  Paul was a great player- 6’ 1” tall and weighed 200 pounds, all muscle.  I also learned from coaches Andrew Johnnie and Herb Didrickson.”  Herb Didrickson is in the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

His mother was Jessie Hanlon Gray.  “She loved her culture- dancing, singing.  She taught herself how to drive a car and how to type.  She did the books for the Alaska Native Brotherhood.” 

His father was noted fisherman Howard Gray, Sr., who fished until he was 84 years old.  “He was very strong as a young man.  He fished all his life.  He was smart and well-liked- he didn’t seem to have any enemies.  My Dad was a hard worker.”

One of his first jobs was as a foreman at the airport and he saved every paycheck.  “When I saved enough I bought my first boat for $8,000.  It was a double ender, I was in my 20s when I bought it”.  Bobby fished all his life, seining and trolling.  One time fishing out of Pelican in the 70s hey caught 11,000 fish.  “We caught 400 coho in one day on the Dawn.  Another day we hauled in 120 kings.  Those were great days.  We caught a lot of fish back then.  They’d give us free ice.  I’d crank up XIT (a Native American rock band that released two albums in the 1970s on the Motown label) on my 8 track tape leaving the harbor.”  It wasn’t always music and salmon, though.  “In one gale blowing over 60mph the waves were so big they were taller than the boat.  I took some pictures with my Instamatic.”  He was sorry to sell his last boat. 

His happiest times have been fishing and coaching.  “I loved coaching.  I may be the winningest coach in Gold Medal history, and have the trophies to show for it.  You can read the records in the Gold Medal Hall of Fame.  We always played to a packed house.”