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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Obituary - Leslie James Gray

It is very sad to report the death of Leslie Gray, at the relatively young age of 56. He spent his whole career with Scottish Mutual having gone there straight from school. Immediately he made an impression when, despite the absence of Higher English from his school exam results, he intimated at interview that he wished to become an actuary.

The interviewer was none other than the late former Faculty president, Douglas McKinnon, who pointed out that notwithstanding Leslie’s excellent Higher results in mathematics and science, he must also have Higher English. Young Leslie was disappointed but asked if he could start work while attempting to pass the English exam and was accepted on this basis – although the office was not convinced of his determination! However, some months later, Leslie was back at Douglas McKinnon’s door with the necessary English qualification and was accepted as an actuarial student. Five years later, at the age of 22, he passed his final Faculty exam and became an associate until the fellowship was automatically granted on his 23rd birthday – as was the rule in those days!

This story demonstrates the determination to work hard and succeed which characterised Leslie’s whole business career. If Leslie was asked to do a job, you knew it would be done thoroughly. Although he often gave the impression of being laid-back, somewhat laissez-faire, he was always very sharp and quick-witted. He was an enthusiast and had a marvellous dry sense of humour – a good guy who will be mourned by many.

After qualification, his career in Scottish Mutual involved many aspects of the company’s business over the years, including a spell in the IT area in the 70s, which gave him an early and useful understanding of technology. When the Mutual decided to enter the new-fangled world of unit-linked business in the 1980s it was Leslie who took charge of the implementation. Subsequently he had senior roles in various areas and not surprisingly he was very much to the fore when the demutualisation course was adopted in the early 90s.

He served on Faculty Council from 1990 to 1993 and chaired the Seminars Committee for two of these years. Subsequently he was a member of the Current Issues Committee (Pensions Board) from 1997 to 2003. Outside of business his main interests were modern jazz and archaeology.

Leslie was diagnosed with cancer some years ago and had various chemotherapy treatments. He remained positive throughout and didn’t talk about his illness. He attended the Faculty 150th celebrations in March and looked well. However, after a holiday in early April he caught an infection which his weakened immune system couldn’t beat and so it was that he died suddenly in hospital on 23 April. He is survived by his wife Isabel and by Jennifer, his daughter by a previous marriage.