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As a Cordova man has epitomized this month's Community of Character Trait for more than 30 years, it should come as no surprise he was flagged as this month's nominee for fairness when his love for young people and sports is considered.

Tyrone Gray has not only been a referee for several sports at the high school level for 35 years but also has risen to an unquestionable level of excellence with notable accomplishments along the way.

"Being inducted into the (Edisto High School) Hall of Fame, I don't know if that's the reason I was nominated," Gray said. "I was awe struck. It (The Community of Character Trait) was an honor for me."

Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President David Coleman said that although Gray's induction into the hall of fame is a huge achievement, it was Gray's love for young people, as demonstrated by his treating everyone with fairness, that earned him the starting position for this month's character trait.

"He's a very … I know this is fairness month, but he's a very giving person," Coleman said. "Tyrone just loves being an official. He gives it the best he has for young people."

The Cordova native is not just the essence of a referee. The 1963 graduate of Edisto High School was an athletic standout himself, lettering in basketball, football, baseball and track.

Gray was also a member of the 1963 All Star Basketball team, 1963 State Championship Baseball team and the 1963 American Legion Baseball Championship Team.

"I've always enjoyed any type of athletics I could," Gray said. "I played sports growing up and in high school. In college, I wasn't quite good enough (to play) on the collegiate level."

After graduating from college in 1967, Gray remained active in sports by offering his services as a referee.

"When I graduated at Clemson, I wanted to participate in the athletic arena," Gray said. "I chose the officiating part of it as a contribution to the development of young people."

If the list of accomplishments is any indication, it wasn't just the athletes that developed.

In addition to being inducted into Edisto's Hall of Fame in September, Gray officiated at the 1981 basketball All Star game and state finals on seven different occasions. He was also a Shrine Bowl official in 1978 and the North South All Star Game in 1982.

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The 58-year-old serves as a maintenance mechanic with the U.S. Post Office by day.

On most Friday nights, he steps into his role as a football official on the high school level. His latest outing was in Class 2A gridiron action between Hanahan and Columbia High School earlier this month.

Gray said his not being quite as fast as he used to be has resulted in his moving from a line judge position to the backfield. Regardless, he plans to continue calling them as he sees them as long as he's able to do so.

"I just enjoy being around young people," Gray said. "And being around them helps me to think young, even though my body says otherwise."

T&D Staff Writer Richard Walker can be reached by e-mail at rwalker@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-533-5516.

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