John Willis Gregory Sr., 98, of Nashville, Tenn., died October 6. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Sara McDowell Gregory. A native of Putnam County and the son of the late C.F. Gregory and Susie Welch Gregory, he was a graduate of Rockville Academy and Eatonton High School in Eatonton. He received degrees from Mercer University, University of Georgia, and Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and attended Duke University. He was a veteran of World War II, having served in the Army Air Corps in the Italian campaign and was decorated for service in the Arno River Battle.
His teaching career included positions at Rockdale and Muscogee Counties - Georgia Public School System, Georgia Institute of Technology and Oxford College of Emory University. He and his wife, Sara, joined the Oxford College faculty in 1947. He retired in 1979 as Professor Emeritus of Humanities. During his years at Oxford College of Emory University, he was active in both academic and campus programs. The 1967 college yearbook was dedicated to him and Mrs. Gregory. He received the Spokesman Award for Outstanding Service to Oxford College and Community. Several scholarships and funds were established by family and friends in their honor and memory, including the John W. and Sara M. Gregory Scholarship, the Sara Gregory Book Fund, and the Gregory-Rackley Development Award. Professor Gregory recently endowed the Sara McDowell Gregory Memorial Scholarship at Oxford College. Professor and Mrs. Gregory joined the Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford in 1947 and were active members in the life of the church. In 2001, the Oxford College Board of Counselors named him and his late wife, Sara, the recipients of the R. Carl Chandler Award for a Lifetime of Service to Oxford College. In 2004, he received the Oxford College Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teaching Award which cited the following contributions he made to Oxford College and the community: "humanist, publicist, coach, educator, counselor, advisor, benefactor, churchman, teacher."
He is survived by sons John W. Gregory, Jr. and Luke Gregory; daughters-in-law Olivia Oldham Gregory and Susan Atkinson Gregory; grandchildren Elise Gregory, Kate Gregory Ericksen and husband Matthew Ericksen, Christopher Gregory, and Benjamin Gregory; sister Eunice Gregory Hudson, as well as many other relatives.
In remembrance of Professor Gregory and with gratitude by the family for all of the friendships he enjoyed in Nashville these past 12 years, a reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Blakeford at Green Hills in Nashville, Tenn. A memorial service will be held at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford, Georgia at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 with the Rev. Max Vincent officiating. Following the memorial service, the family will greet friends at a reception in Lovern Hall, adjacent to the church.
He and Mrs. Gregory both chose to be body donors, Mrs. Gregory to Emory University School of Medicine and Professor Gregory to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Interment will be in the Oxford Historical Cemetery at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford; St. Paul United Methodist Church in Eatonton; John W. and Sara M. Scholarship, the Sara McDowell Gregory Memorial Scholarship, the Sara Gregory Book Fund or the Gregory-Rackley Development Award at Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, Georgia; or to a charity of one’s choice