Eli Gray was struck and killed by a truck in Oakland on Aug. 27. Eli had an idyllic Alameda childhood, attending Edison Elementary, Lincoln Middle, and Alameda High schools and living on Christmas Tree Lane.
As a child he had only a casual interest in sports but was eager for the hexadecimal math problems his dad would give him while waiting for breakfast at Jim’s Coffee Shop. He was gentle and kind, nicknamed “the Gandhi Child” by a family friend.
He once made a new friend after a child told his mother that Eli was the nicest kid in class, so she arranged a play date. His early love of math soon grew to include computers and he began building custom systems that could “super cool” his CPU to -60°C, increasing computation speed. This culminated in a “phase-change” cooling project which probably helped him gain early-decision admission to MIT.
He was thrilled to enter MIT and be around those who shared his passion for topics few people could understand or cared about. But early in his college career he began to experience serious mental illness, which led to a prolonged leave of absence after his sophomore year. He returned to the Bay Area and continued to pursue math and computer classes at UC Berkeley and enjoyed learning welding at Laney College, always with the goal of returning to MIT. The areas of math that most fascinated him were the abstract disciplines that did not involve numbers, where he found great beauty.
Politics and law also intrigued him, leading him to line up outside the U.S. Supreme Court at midnight one cold March night for the chance to watch their oral arguments the next day. Nearly as thrilling was when he ventured into Trump Tower and spotted Rudy Giuliani. He took a selfie with Rudy in the background, only to discover months later that the men with Giuliani in the photo were the infamous “Lev” and “Igor” of the Ukrainian scandal involving attempts to smear Joe Biden! Eli loved that photo.
Robert Mueller’s report was also released that week and Eli was thrilled to stand in front of the Justice Department to witness its release. This trip to D.C. may have been his favorite vacation ever.
Eli returned to MIT last fall and had a successful semester, but in spring he slipped back into serious mental illness and returned home. We believe his confused state of mind from his illness contributed greatly to the accident that killed him.
He is survived by his parents Alan “Sam” Bradley and Jennifer Gray of Alameda; sister Marina Bradley of Alameda; grandparents Nancy and Ray McKelvey of Morro Bay, Calif.; aunts and uncles Charles “Chuck” Bradley of Berkeley, Kris Bradley and Carol Ihlenberg of San Rafael, Kimberly Gray of Bloomington, Ind., Robert “Scott” Gray (Jen) of Bloomington, Ind., Matthew Gray (Carmen) of Rio Rico, Ariz., Debbie Green of Bloomington, Ind., Cynthia and Mike Stover of Noblesville, Ind., Andy Ruff of Bloomington, Ind.; and his beloved cousins Anna, Rachel, Jordin, Hank, Sofia, Dylan, Matthew Javier, Kylie, Eleanor, Kennedy, Charli and Aella.
He is also survived by his closest friend, Kyle Mauney, who provided over 25 years of fun, companionship, and support. And finally, his dear cat Abbie who he saved from a life on the streets of Cambridge, Mass.
Memorial donations gratefully accepted by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) or the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. A private memorial will be held at his grandparents’ family home to remember his many happy years.
Resident of Pacifica
Wynn was a lover of life! She grew up in Alameda, Calif., attending Porter School and Alameda High. She was an accomplished tap dancer and loved playing the violin. Wynn attended the University of Oregon and Lane Community College where she earned her nursing degree and was an ICU nurse on the Peninsula at Kaiser Hospital and Mary’s Help Hospital (now Seton Hospital).
While in Oregon Wynn met Nick. They later married and lived in both Pacifica and Hillsborough raising Christopher and Cassondra, to whom Wynn was devoted. She had a wonderful sense of humor, loved their yearly family visits to Lake Tahoe, road trips with daughter Cassondra, their beloved dogs, cooking, music, the San Francisco Ballet, museums, the theater and visits to Filoli. She doted on grandchildren Amy and Andrew.
Wynn passed away in the early morning hours of Aug. 10 from complications due to Alzheimer’s after a valiant 13-year battle. Wynn was predeceased by parents William “Frank” Peacock and Iris Peacock. She is survived by her husband Nick, son Christopher (Florence), daughter Cassondra, grandchildren Amy and Andrew, sister Gail De Bellis (Dominick), sister-in-law Georgia Morrow and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to attend a celebration of Wynn’s life from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 4, at the outdoor courtyard of First Presbyterian Church of Alameda, 2001 Santa Clara Ave. in Alameda. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For more information please call or text 650-224-47
Resident of Alameda
Longtime Alameda resident Mary Lee Kieffer, 93, made her transition to the next life on August 17 in Thousand Oaks (Ventura County). She moved there in October 2019 after spending her entire life in Alameda (with exception of about three years total as a girl in the 1930s and as a young wife in the 1950s).
She leaves two sons, Brad (Karen Oxrider) of Thousand Oaks and Steve (Amy) of Manteca; four grandchildren, Sharon Steele (Grant) of Springfield, Virginia, Steve Kieffer (Amber Hair) of Modesto, Taylor Gillis (Heidi) of Redding, and Parker Gillis, also of Redding; 11 great grandchildren; two nephews, Bret Hewitt of Davis and Garth Hewitt (Sherri) of Petaluma; one niece, Lauren Hewitt (Dolores McElroy) of Oakland; and an extended family that traces its Alameda roots back to the 1890s.
She was preceded to the next life by her daughter Leslie Gillis, son David Kieffer, grandson Scottie Gillis, brother Thomas Hewitt, sister-in-law Emily Hewitt; niece-in-law Deb Pinkerton; and former husband George Kieffer.
She was born in 1928 to Burt and Florence Hewitt (Tasker) at Mabel Tennant’s Maternity Home on Chestnut Street. Like mother, like daughter: Her mother, too, lived her entire life in Alameda.
Mary Lee graduated from Lincoln Elementary School and from Alameda High School (class of 1944).
After high school, she performed administrative duties for Shell Oil Co. in downtown San Francisco, commuting across the bay on a Key System bus.
In the ’60s she worked seasonally in the city of Alameda’s tax assessor’s office and part time at Debbie’s Attitude dress shop on Park Street, where Lauren’s Closet is now located. When her children were old enough, she returned to admin work and spent the rest of her career in office management for Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. and its successor company, Security First Group, in Oakland (and later Pleasanton). When asked later in life about what she felt her legacy would be, she would demur. But her family members know that her memory lives on in the powerful life lessons she instilled in them and others.
First, she taught them how to revere nature and the outdoors. She covered the finer points of cooking Spam over a campfire and how to hold on to the saddle horn like there’s no tomorrow when your horse stumbles on a rock during an afternoon downpour in the Sierra. Thanks to her, her sons learned an early lesson that the worst day fishing is still better than the best day at work.
Most of all, though, were her lessons on love. Family and friends remember her devotion to her son, David, who was born severely physically and mentally disabled. For about the final 20 years of his life, Mimi, as she was known to family and friends, spent almost every Sunday taking David for scenic drives throughout the Bay Area, the usual highlight being an ice cream sundae McDonalds drive-through in whatever town they found themselves.
When asked about her devotion to others, she would just shrug and say, “That’s what family’s for, isn’t it?”
Another lesson she taught was on selflessness and putting the needs of others above your own. During the pandemic, she self-isolated in her apartment as part of social-distancing precautions. Whenever someone expressed sympathy over the dearth of her human interactions, she would just say, “There are others who have it much worse than I do, and I worry more about them.”
After retiring, Mary Lee enjoyed volunteering. She was a docent at the Alameda Museum and the U.S.S. Hornet Museum, and she was a long-time volunteer at the Oakland Museum Women’s Board annual White Elephant Sale.
Among her volunteer endeavors, she was most proud of being a charter member and two-time president in the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization promoting women’s educational opportunities.
Before moving to Thousand Oaks in October 2019, Mary Lee lived for a year at The Lodge assisted living on Island Drive. Before that, she lived on Bayo Vista Avenue for more than 40 years.
Friends and family are invited to Mary Lee’s celebration of life service at noon on Saturday, Oct. 2 at noon at the First Congregational Church, 1912 Central Ave. The service will be livestreamed at www.fccalameda.org.
Following cremation, Mary Lee’s ashes will be spread with her mother’s, father’s and son’s.
The P.E.O. Sisterhood has been designated for memorial contributions. Checks payable to “P.E.O. Chapter UN” may be sent to: Mary Lee Kieffer Memorial Fund c/o Lynette Sawyer,1112 Broadway, Alameda, CA 94501