Newly retired park manager recognized for achievements


Reinhardt Gray, former park manager at Mason Neck State Park, speaks at an event (Credit: Friends of Mason Neck State Park)

For more than 10 years, Reinhardt Gray served with Virginia State Parks, including for the last seven years as park manager at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia.

Up until his retirement this past January, Gray was active with volunteer groups and the Friends of Mason Neck State Park, Inc., as well as a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, according to his manager Ken Benson, III, Potomac district manager with Virginia State Parks. While at Mason Neck, Gray reached out to underserved, underprivileged and minority youth, helping make nature and natural environments accessible to them, including through the Junior Ranger program. He also helped expand the park’s annual Eagle Festival with support from the Friends organization and sponsors, attracting and educating as many as 5,000 guests.

Despite his accomplishments, Gray avoided the spotlight.

“He worked very hard behind the scenes and without self-promotion or want of recognition,” said Benson. “He truly was selfless.”

Gray, who began his career in law enforcement with the Virginia State Police, is easing into retirement by helping the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services part-time with its accreditation program.

In the meantime, Mason Neck State Park is in the process of hiring a new manager, which it expects to have in place by mid-April, said Benson. That person will focus on continuing the park’s outreach work, filling some staff vacancies, partnering with agencies around the park and being a leader in the community.

On March 10, state delegates Kathy Tran and R. Lee Ware presented a resolution that passed on voice vote in the Virginia House of Delegates, commending Gray for his service.

“When asked what motivates him to work hard,” began one line of the resolution, “Reinhardt Gray responded that he wanted to do the right thing all the time and make sure everyone has a fair shot.”

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