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Gray Gorton

Gray GortonCreative 360’s next Yes We Can! Tuesday Tribute features a presentation by Navy veteran Gray Gorton who served on the U.S.S. Grafton during WWII. His presentation is Tuesday, February 12, 2-3:30 pm. Admission is $5.

The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gray Gorton set off for the U.S. Navy offices in Houston, TX. Five years later, he found himself amid a battle for his life in the Pacific Ocean with Japanese kamikaze pilots crashing into surrounding ships, narrowly missing his own.

At  the time war broke out, Gorton was attending Rice Institute — now named Rice University — in Houston. His naval training didn’t begin immediately. “In those days, you were put in the naval reserves and allowed to continue your college education,” he said. “I was taking a discipline that the government thought was valuable to the armed forces, chemical engineering.”

As a reservist, Gorton worked as an apprentice seaman building destroyer escort vessels. Following his graduation in 1944, he set off for training in New York, and then set sail toward war in the Pacific Ocean on the U.S.S. Grafton where he remained until the following May.

Gorton describes his trip to Japan as one with “lots of water. There were tornadoes on the water called waters spouts, and we went through a typhoon,” he said.

“On the second day at Okinawa, we encountered the kamikazes,” said Gorton. “One splashed down alongside our ship, and covered us with water and some shrapnel. Thank goodness he had poor aim!”

Born in New Orleans and raised in Cuba, Gorton has lived in Midland for the last 51 years.

Creative 360’s Tuesday Tributes offer an opportunity to hear from and about an array of fascinating seniors – their lives, their creative process, and their adventures. Always on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m., they offer lively conversation, tea, treats, and time for Q&A. There are ten Tuesday Tributes in the Yes We Can! schedule this year. The remaining are as follows:

Feb 26: Louise Herringshaw (82) – Special Family Bonds

Mar   5: Carol Kuhn Busick (94) – Life on the Prairie

Mar 12: Ralph Rye (94) – Designer and Builder

Apr   2:  Barbara Muessig (84) – Entrepreneur

Apr   9:  Dr. Joyce Henricks (83) – Artist, Author, Educator, Volunteer

Apr 16:  Mitzi Clark (82) – Actor, Dancer, Writer

Apr 23:  Carl (87) and Patricia (81) Price – Spending Time in Our National Parks

Apr 30:  Virginia Florey and Leona Seamster – Midland: Her Continuing Story

Creative 360 has also added Yes We Can! evenings to the lineup that include two presentations from Dr. Basil Clark, professor emeritus at SVSU; a fabulous concert by The New Reformation Band; and a book signing and talk by Quita V. Shier who wrote the book, “Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army.”

About Yes We Can!

Six years ago, Creative 360 developed an innovative program designed to recognize and honor the contributions of people who are 80 and over in a way that respects their knowledge and taps into their legacy of creativity. This amazing segment of our population has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. The Yes We Can! program gives people of all ages ongoing opportunities to engage with, and learn from, this dynamic group of senior presenters.

Since the program began in the winter of 2014, Creative 360 has celebrated more than 300 Great Lakes Bay artists, scholars, scientists, and community leaders. These octogenarians inspire everyone to be more active and to realize we can all be contributing community members at any age!

Thanks to The Barstow Foundation, NADA Northwood University, and Space Studios for their generous sponsorship of this year’s Yes We Can! program. For more information about Yes We Can!, go to Creative 360’s website at or call 989-837-1885.

If you know of someone who is (or soon will be) 80 or above and should be considered as part of future Yes We Can! programs, please contact Creative 360 at 989-837-1885 or by email at

About Creative 360
Creative 360 is a not-for-profit community arts and wellness organization founded in 1994. Its mission is to create environments that allow people of all ages and abilities to experience the creative process, and to enhance physical, mental and spiritual wellness through the arts and humanities. The organization’s core values of inclusiveness, creativity, respect and community drive the culture at Creative 360. Activities at Creative 360 are supported in part by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, Midland Area Community Foundation and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

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