Obituary

Mary Jane Gray, co-founder of Planned Parenthood of Vermont

Mary Jane Gray, M.D., passed away on January 23, 2022 at the age of 97 in Corvallis, Oregon, where she had been living for more than 30 years.

Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1924, educated at Swarthmore College, Washington University Medical School, and Columbia University, she arrived in Burlington, Vermont in 1960 to practice obstetrics and gynecology, and teach at the UVM Medical School. She was one of the very few women practicing in her field at that time, and this in part led her in 1965 to become one of the founders of Planned Parenthood of Vermont.

In 1963, she married Thomas Bassett and took on, loved, and raised four teenaged children whose mother had died suddenly four years before. She brought her own family member, a tall and gracious black standard poodle named Mitzi. For many years she balanced the care and tending of the family, house, and gardens with a full obstetrical practice, a full time teaching load, and research. She also joined the Burlington Friends Meeting, which met in the barn behind their house, and often hosted guests for lunch after Quaker meeting on Sundays.

In 1979, the marriage ended, and she left Vermont to become head of Women’s Health Services at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Upon retirement she moved to Oregon, continuing to volunteer at women’s health clinics in Portland and Corvallis. She joined the Corvallis Friends Meeting and became close to many, both in the meeting and outside of it.

Mary Jane began to paint in her retirement, almost entirely in watercolors, and almost always landscapes of the Oregon coast, mountains, and woodlands that she loved.

She will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by her two surviving stepchildren, Lisa Bassett of Chicago and Marty French of Burlington and their families, as well as her nieces and nephews, in particular David Danforth and his wife Tina who were such a large part of her life. She was predeceased by her stepchildren Margot Bassett and John Bassett, and her sister Elizabeth Danforth.

Lisa and Marty wish to express their deep appreciation for the amazing care and protection provided Mary Jane by her friend Ms.“George” Cuniff in her later years.


Family Information

She is survived by her stepchildren, Lisa Bassett of Chicago and Marty French of Burlington and their families, as well as her nieces and nephews, in particular David Danforth and his wife Tina who were such a large part of her life. She was predeceased by her stepchildren Margot Bassett and John Bassett, and her sister Elizabeth Danforth.


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