Tom Cray dies; founded Veterans Outreach Center in 1973

Tom Cray dies; founded Veterans Outreach Center in 1973

Tom Cray

Veterans Outreach Center Inc. founder Tom Cray died Nov. 10 at his home. He was 67.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Mr. Cray served two tours in the Vietnam War. Upon his return, Mr. Cray saw a need for services to help veterans cope with trauma and receive government benefits.

He created the Veterans Outreach Center in 1973, and it is now the nation’s oldest community-based outreach and advocacy center for veterans and their dependents. In 2010, when Mr. Cray retired as CEO of the nonprofit organization, VOC had nearly 40 employees.

Last year the organization had a staff of nearly 50 and served more than 1,000 veterans and their families.

“Veterans served to protect our freedom and now they need support from the community,” Mr. Cray told the Rochester Business Journal in a 2004 interview. “It is critical that veterans experience success in their civilian lives, success that will translate into improved health, a reconnection with themselves and society, and a productive life.”

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, noted that Mr. Cray was committed to the betterment of his country and his community.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Tom Cray. I was honored to know Tom from my earliest days in office and I can think of no one who better exemplified what it means to serve a cause greater than oneself,” Slaughter said. “He made an indelible impression on all those who knew him and on generations of veterans who have passed through the doors of the Veterans Outreach Center. Tom and his family are in my thoughts at this difficult time.”

Mr. Cray was born Jan. 17, 1950 in Lyons, Wayne County. He is survived by his mother, Adeline (Francis) Moracco, and his daughter, Lindsay Cray.

Calling hours will be held Nov. 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Falvo’s Funeral Home in Webster. A celebration of Mr. Cray’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 18 at Monroe Community College Theater.

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