Baton Rouge resident has worked as a referee for 16 years
Sporting his official uniform of black and white stripes,
Bray, 61, is a part of the football game “chain gang” crew,
and has been doing it 16 years.
By DIANA SEPULVEDA
Grambling State University Media Bureau
New Orleans, La. – Mark Bray had one of the best spots at the Bayou Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Saturday, he didn’t have a seat.
Sporting his official uniform of black and white stripes, Bray, 61, is a part of the football game “chain gang” crew, and has been doing it 16 years. “He needed a Gramblinite on the crew,” Bray said as he recalled getting a call from referee supervisor Odell Wilmer, “and I volunteered. I have been doing it ever since.”
In 1971, the Lake Charles native enrolled in then Grambling College. During his college tenure, he enjoyed attending the football games, watching the band perform and seeing the late Eddie G. Robinson coach the football team. A longtime high school referee, Bray recently retired from his position as a senior district executive with the Boy Scouts of America’s Baton Rouge area council.
A Bray friend, Nelson Royal Jr., is a part of the Baton Rouge Area Football Officials Association with Bray and both have been a part of the Bayou Classic chain gang crew for years. Royal said Bray’s Gramblinite spirit is evident. “He is not a selfish person,” said Royal, a Baton Rouge native. “He is the type of person who likes to give back.”
Coming from a family that has a rich Grambling tradition, Bray wanted to keep the legacy intact. However, he married a Southernite and his high school sweetheart, Linda. They have been married for 37 years. His three daughters are also Southern Jaguars. Not fond of his children’s choice for their college education at first, he’s come to terms with it.
“My dad is an undoubtedly a Gramblinite and you can see his passion for football,” said Simone Bray, his youngest daughter.
Simone Bray, a senior mass communication major at Southern, is the Student Government Association president as well and a self-described “daddy’s little girl,” but she made a different university decision. “He tried to persuade us, but it didn’t work,” she said. “My whole life he knew I wanted to be a Southernite because I grew up around them.”
Just like any other game, Simone proudly pointed out her Gramblinite father while in the stands in the Superdome.
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