The Crusader Newspaper Group

Farewell to a Crusading journalist

Crusader staff report

Family and friends are coming together this weekend to say farewell to Gary Crusader journalist Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, whose death on June 27 stunned newspaper colleagues and devastated loved ones.

UnknownA visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, July 7, at Smith Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home, 4209 Grant Street. On Saturday, July 8, her Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 1333 West 25th Avenue. A wake will be at the church at 10 a.m.

Woodson-Wray, 56, died of medical complications at Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary. Even while hospitalized several times, Woodson-Wray continued writing stories for the Crusader and would have the nurse fax them to the newspaper. Woodson-Wray’s commitment to “get the story” despite challenging circumstances inspired colleagues who admired her for her grit and tenacity. Only death stopped her determined pursuit of a good story.

Though she spent decades in journalism, colleagues remember Woodson-Wray as a passionate journalist who never stopped striving to learn the craft of good journalism. Full of zeal, she loved writing stories about people and places in Gary.

Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Gary Crusader said, “The Crusader newspaper family mourns the death of a most dedicated writer, Carmen Woodson-Wray. The news of her death was received as a hushed and subdued message that no one wanted to hear. Carmen had been a loyal employee of the Gary Crusader, a full participant when able, but amazingly she never complained or made any excuses for her health that was viewed as a limitation. She was a regular contributor up until her death, writing stories and coming up with story ideas, even as she was hospitalized. She was a loyal employee and strived each and every day to improve her writing and to give positive coverage to the city of Gary. We shall miss her and find it hard to believe that we can replace her loyalty and dedication she so freely gave. I, as publisher of the Gary Crusader will miss her and her willingness to do whatever she could to improve the quality of our newspaper. Rest in peace, Carmen!!”

In his column last week, Circle City Connection columnist Vernon A. Williams said, “Carmen was the unassuming but steady centerpiece, the straw that stirred the drink. She did more news stories and took more photos than anyone on the staff. She was dedicated, thorough and passionate. She was everything today’s journalists are not.”

Sharon Fountain, Gary Crusader managing editor, said, “I was overcome with sadness to learn of the passing of my dear colleague, Carmen Woodson-Wray with whom I spoke nearly everyday of the week. She was the person who the Chicago staff could depend on to get the Gary newspaper done. I offer my sincerest and deepest condolences to her daughters during this difficult time.”

Dana Rettig, Crusader freelance writer said, “I’m sorry to hear about Mrs. Wray. My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her loved ones. May God heal your heart through this trying time. God bless you all.”

Effie Rolfe, Faith writer said, “To the family, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Also, rest confident in knowing that Carmen used her gifts and writing abilities to not only touch the local communities but also, the world and generations to come will be blessed by her work.”


Carmen was well know for playing tennis in high school.Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Woodson-Wray was a devoted member of St. James Missionary Baptist Church. She was a graduate of West Side High School, class of 1979. Woodson-Wray is highly regarded for her 31 plus years of reporting the news as a journalist and photographer for the Info Newspaper, and Gary Crusader and as host of Gary’s most distinguished political figures.

Carmen woodson wray and daughters
CARMEN M. WOODSON-WRAY is pictured in happier times with her daughters left, Tiffany and right, Roxie.

She is survived by two daughters, Tiffany Woodson and Roxie Wray; one sister, Sally Cooper, and one brother Jeff Joyce, all of Gary, IN. Woodson-Wray was preceded in death by her husband, Tyrone Wray; father, Willie B. Woodson; mother, Louise Scott Woodson; four sisters, Lorene Woodson, Annie Harrell, Ruth Woodson, Willie Pearl Robinson; and two brothers Willie Woodson, Jr., and Terry Woodson.

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