Comrades in Leeds were saddened by the news that Gordon Wray passed away on 10 March. Gordon was a lifelong socialist and trade unionist.
He was always proud of being an extremely bad soldier in the Middle East after the Second World War where he spent more time in trouble than out of it.
He joined the International Socialists (IS), the forerunner of the SWP, and became a shop steward at the Doncaster Monkbridge engineering factory in Leeds.
Gordon quickly became one of the key industrial members of the organisation. He was a brilliant rank and file organiser, building one of the first workplace IS branches in the country.
During a miners’ strike in the early 1970s the Monkbridge shop stewards’ committee set a 50p weekly levy to support the striking miners.
Gordon spent a number of years during the industrial downturn of the late 1970s and early 1980 working abroad.
On his return he threw himself back into the trade union movement and the SWP.
He became an active member of his trade union. He was always active in his workplace and community.
Those of us who have never seen an upturn in class struggle would listen with open mouths to Gordon’s stories of the past where workers would walk out on unofficial action and try and win before the full-time union official got involved.
He always had lots of words of wisdom and advice, especially about how to build roots and a base wherever you were operating.
In retirement he became a founder member of Beeston Forum, a local community group, and was also active in the Leeds pensioners’ organisations.
He also continued to attend his union meetings and Leeds trades council where he was a member of the executive until very recently.
He will be remembered as a class fighter who hated the bosses. He was always ready with a joke for both the appropriate and inappropriate moment.
Unlike many of his generation he never gave up. Despite the defeats he had seen he was always optimistic about the future.
The last few years saw him having to reduce his level of activity, but he was always there in spirit if not in body.
If he could not attend events like the annual Marxism festival in London he would make sure someone with less money was funded to go in his name.
In the last few months of his life he remained loyal to the party and it was only his ill health that prevented him attending meetings.
Even in death Gordon got one over on the ruling class. By donating his body to science he finally got his place at Leeds University without having to pay tuition fees.
He will be missed by all who knew him. Our condolences go to Gordon’s wife Pauline, daughters Lesley, Melanie, Mandy and grandchildren Curtis, Connor, Ella, Glen, Megan, Jake and Sophie.
In solidarity and peace.
Instead of flowers the family have asked for donations to be sent to the junior football team Gordon’s grandson plays for:
Tingley Athletic Junior Football Club c/o Mel Hayton, 34 Bodmin Street, Middleton, Leeds LS10 4NF
Anwar Ditta, a heroic anti-racist campaigner, died last week.