Vanessa Gray Williams Memorial Fund

The Vanessa Gray Williams Memorial Fund was established to ensure her daughter, Jalynn, is supported througout her academic career.


Our beloved Vanessa Gay Williams suddenly entered eternal life and went home to be with The Lord on April 15, 2016, at the age of 46. She was the daughter of Earnest Gray, Sr. and Ruthie Atkins Gray, and the sister to Tyrone Gray, Sr., Rodney Gray, Sr., and Ernest Gray, Jr.

Vanessa was born on November 23, 1969 in Manhattan, New York at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The Gray family moved from the Bronx to Cambria Heights, Queens eighteen months after Vanessa was born. The family became a part of the Cambria Heights Sports Association, at which “Van” (as most of her childhood friends called her) made many lifelong friendships. At Cambria Park, she watched her brothers play baseball, basketball, and football; Van also played softball for a short time. But what Van really loved was being on the Cambria Heights Bowling Team. She became an avid bowler and carefully honed her skills for years. She was also involved with the Girl Scouts and a member of Prince of Peace Church. Vanessa was a natural leader, even as a child, and was often called “the neighborhood event planner”; she choreographed dances at summer block parties, and coordinated trips to various amusement parks as well as Jones Beach for many years. All of these good times were the makings of many lifelong relationships…some of over 40 years.

Vanessa attended P.S. 147 in Cambria Heights, I.S. 192 in Hollis, Queens (where she met the love of her life, Raymond), and then went on to Martin Van Buren High School, where she became the Cheerleading Captain and walked in the high school fashion shows wearing the outfits sewn by her own personal fashion designer…her dad!

Vanessa started working for New York Telephone (now
known as Verizon) while earning her undergraduate degree and first Master’s degree at St. John’s University. As a life-long learner, she would later attend New York Institute of Technology, Long Island University, and Stony Brook University, where she earned several Master’s degrees. Vanessa remained at Verizon for twelve years before leaving to pursue her “dream job” as a School Counselor. She worked for one year as a high school counselor at East Hampton High School before joining the Roslyn School District.  She worked at Roslyn High School for ten years as a counselor and Bridging the Gap Coordinator.  In this role, Vanessa worked closely with students to prepare them for college and was instrumental in helping many minority and underrepresented students continue their education.  In 2010, Vanessa transitioned to the Roslyn Middle School where she remained for the last six years and seamlessly became a part of the Roslyn Middle School family.  

Vanessa married her junior-high school sweetheart, Raymond Karl Williams in November of 1993. After eleven years of marriage, they were blessed with their only child, Jalynn Kristina in 2004. In addition to Raymond and Mama Gray, Jalynn was without a doubt the focus of Vanessa’s life. After Jalynn was born, Vanessa transformed into a glowing mother. She went to great lengths to make every holiday extra special for her daughter. Easter, her famous July 4th BBQ, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas were most memorable. She also loved planning all of Jalynn’s fabulous birthday parties. She was Jalyn’s chauffeur, her chef, and of course, her constant, most passionate cheerleader.

Fun loving, full of jokes, and a better chef than most of her family and friends, Vanessa was deeply devoted to her husband, her daughter, her mother, her extended family, her nieces and nephews, her sister-friends, her several godchildren, and a host of lifelong friends. She was a loyal and honest straight-shooter, a good listener, and an optimist who welcomed all of her friends into her “Circle of Friendship.” Without question, Vanessa was one of the best friends that many of us have ever had.

Raymond will always love and miss his “Queen,” Jalynn will always love and miss her “Mommy,” and we will always love and miss our Vanessa, our “Van”, our “Godie,” our “Vanana-bana,” our “VG.”
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 56 mos
  • Karen Kummer 
    • $50 
    • 66 mos
  • Marnie Cohen 
    • $75 
    • 66 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 66 mos
  • Sunshine Fund Roslyn Middle School 
    • $100 
    • 66 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Raymond Williams 
Middle Island, NY
Raymond Williams 
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