Nelly Beveridge Gray

Doctor of Letters

An artist and a traveller, Nelly Gray was born in England, but her family moved to Nova Scotia in 1912 and then to Detroit in 1924. She graduated as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Detroit in 1929, celebrating with a bus journey to California that led to a voyage through the Panama Canal. This was the first of the multitude of adventurous journeys with which her life has been fulfilled. From 1935 to 1949, she looked after Mr. and Mrs. Booth, retired newspaper publishers who founded the Cranbrook Educational Institution, located just north of Detroit. With them, she travelled widely and also enrolled in the Institution to earn both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Arts. She paints in watercolours and acrylic and has always experimented with materials, receiving an award for innovation from the American Watercolour Society in the 1960s.

Her enthusiasm for art and travel brought Mrs. Gray to another major achievement. On the chance suggestion of an acquaintance, she invested a method of making rubbings from stone carvings. From then on, she applied her artistic sensitivity to recording the relief sculptures around the world. Her work was shown in the University’s art gallery in 1972, 1982, 1989 and 1990.