Obituary - The Honourable Ian Gray



It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death late Wednesday night, 10 October 2018, of the Honourable Ian (universally known as “Sam”) Gray, long-retired Supreme Court, and previously County Court, Judge. Sam was 92 years of age (born 6 March 1926).

Sam was educated at Melbourne Grammar School. He played in the First XI and the First XVIII. Upon completing Matriculation in 1943, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. After training at Flinders, he was posted to Darwin; then to HMAS Echuca seeing service in the Pacific. He was promoted from Ordinary Seaman (Second Class) to Able Seaman.

Not discharged until 1946, he then served Long Articles with the Senior Partner at Blake & Riggall (now Ashurst), Mr E W Outhwaite. For part of those five years, he shared a room with John Young (later Chief Justice Sir John Young), who was serving his Articles with Alan Lobban. Sam completed his Long Articles Law subjects at the University of Melbourne. He later quipped that he was one of the few, in modern times, to have been appointed to the Supreme Court “without first acquiring either a Law degree or a silken gown”.

He was admitted to practice in December 1950 and came directly to the Bar, signing the Roll in January 1951. He read with Douglas Little (later Sir Douglas Little of the Supreme Court). In more than 17 years at the Bar, he was regarded as a strong and fearless advocate in all jurisdictions, particularly in the broad Common Law field – he was in high demand in civil juries.

Sam Gray served as a Judge of the County Court for more than 9 years (27 February 1968 to 12 July 1977); also, as a Deputy Chairman of the Workers Compensation Board and of the Industrial Relations Court; and as President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

He served as a Judge of the Supreme Court for more than 12 years (12 July 1977 to 30 March 1990). In retirement, he was a Reserve Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria for 11 years (30 March 1990 to 5 March 2001) and was frequently engaged and sat; and an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory – a remarkable total or 33 years as a Judge and Reserve Judge.

Beyond the Law, he was Chairman of the Australia Day Committee (Victoria), which advises the Premier on the state-wide Australia Day celebrations, from 1982 for many years.

He was a fine sportsman. He continued to play football and cricket with the Old Melburnians and he captained the Victorian Bar cricket team. He was of a standard as a cricketer that, in his response at his County Court Welcome, although perhaps in jest, he expressed disappointment at not having been selected for the Australian touring team to go to England. He played golf, tennis and squash.

He went camping in Central Australia. He was a bushwalker and walked in New Zealand, South America and Kenya (Mt Kilimanjaro).

A noted after-dinner speaker, he proposed the Toast to Cricket at the Centenary Test Dinner in Melbourne.

There is to be a private funeral.

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