Dr. Truman S. Gray, professor emeritus of engineering electronics and a pioneer in the field of electronic instrumentation, measurement and control, died Saturday, Nov. 7, at Mt. Auburn Hospital. He had suffered a heart attack a few days earlier in his home in Lexington. He was 86.
Services were held Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Church of Our Redeemer, Lexington.
Professor Gray, a Lexington resident for 57 years, leaves his wife, Isabel Crockford Gray; a sister, Margaret Shepherd of Texas, and two nieces.
Professor Gray began his teaching career at MIT 65 years ago in 1927 as a research assistant in electrical engineering and became a vital force in what is now the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He regularly used his MIT office up to the time of his death.
Professor Gray's family moved from Indiana to Austin, TX, shortly after his birth in 1906. His father was a professor at the University of Texas, where Professor Gray received bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and physics in 1926 and 1927, respectively. At MIT, he received a master of science degree in electrical engineering in 1928 and a doctor of science degree in 1930.
His doctoral thesis, supervised by the late Vannevar Bush, involved the design and construction of a machine to perform analog numerical integration. Out of this work and from his teaching in this area came a book, Applied Electronics, which became an authoritative text for the field of electronics and was translated into Japanese and Spanish.
After serving as a research assistant and instructor in electrical engineering, Dr. Gray joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1935. He was promoted to associate professor in 1942 and professor in 1960.
At his retirement in 1971, his graduate-level course, "Electronic Instrumentation and Control," begun in 1934, was the only departmental subject still listed in the catalogue under its original instructor. In addition to teaching the premier departmental subject in electronic instrumentation, which he continued to do even after his official retirement, he also was in charge of the department's Graduate Office for many years.
During a leave from MIT in 1947-48, he took charge of designing and developing reactor instrumentation at the newly established Brookhaven National Laboratory. He also was an expert witness in numerous legal cases.
Professor Gray maintained a special interest in music all his life. He played the clarinet for many years with concert bands, including the Concord Band and the Lexington Bicentennial Band. He especially enjoyed Dixieland and was a founding member in 1957 of the Tabor Hill Dixieland Jazz Band, playing clarinet with the group for the past 35 years. Just last week, he and another band member, Stephen H. Crandall, also an emeritus professor at MIT, were discussing an upcoming engagement. He also was an an accomplished amateur silversmith and glassblower.
A version of this article appeared in the November 12, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 13).