The prosperity of a community is usually measured by the quality of its citizens.
The willingness of residents to participate in community events directly reflects the success of the municipality. We are extremely fortunate to have many people who work endlessly for the betterment of the community, and near the top of this list is Stephen Gray, who is, among other things, the CEO of Medical Associates of Port Perry, which includes the North Durham Family Health Team. As if that challenge was not enough, Stephen is also on the board of the new Oak Ridges Hospice of Durham.
Born in Birmingham, England, Stephen, the only boy, with three sisters, moved to Calgary when he was still quite young. His father was a plumber and gas fitter and his mother a legal secretary. As with many immigration policies from European countries, the Gray’s options for relocating were Canada and Australia.
During school, Stephen worked several part time jobs, including paper routes, manning the desk at an auto parts store, and flipping burgers at McDonalds. Upon graduation, Stephen found his true entrepreneurial self and, along with a friend, opened a photo finishing store. The business thrived and soon the duo owned and managed four stores.
Stephen realized the photo finishing business was coming to an end with the digital age and decided to return to his studies, working on his CMA degree. In 1996 Stephen met Merrilee Brown and the two connected. In fact, Merrilee invited Stephen on a date in Edmonton. The couple developed a long term relationship, between Ottawa and the west for more than a year, until Merrilee (now Dr. Brown) took a position in Stony Plain, Alberta.
Merrilee had completed her research work in Port Perry, and fell in love with the town. She had secured a position here and in 1998 the couple packed their belongings into a U-Haul and started a three day trek across the country. A year later Merrilee and Stephen were wed, and bought a house on Scugog Island.
Stephen, now in the accounting business, took on a position with Penny and Associates Business Management, providing controller services to companies. In 2002, he once again kicked into his entrepreneurial mode and started Cameron’s Coffee Company. The company did well, and Stephen sold the business just after he was offered a position with Medical Associates of Port Perry. “I was approached to apply for the position, and with my accounting degree, innovative history and managerial past, I felt I could contribute greatly to the community.”
In 2008 Merrilee and Stephen moved from the Island into town. By now, they had two children, and all the activities this busy family was involved in, made moving closer to work and schools a necessity. Stephen’s career was skyrocketing with the expansion of the medical building in 2010.
The following year they added the North Durham Family Health Team, a group of health care professionals working with the physicians of Medical Associates of Port Perry, to deliver expanded medical services to Port Perry and the community.
Currently there are 40 physicians in the Medical Associates; which is twice the number from when Stephen started. Together with a staff of 120 employees, several tenants such as Physio, Audiology, Dentistry, the Lab, Port Perry Imaging, etc. keeps him on his toes at all times.
“I love my job, primarily because I get to work with amazing people, and secondly I get to provide a service to our community that is needed,” Stephen explained.
Along with work, Stephen is an avid skier and loves to golf, although time seldom permits it. Mountain biking is another activity Stephen is engaged in, and tries to get out on the trails as often as he can. Stephen and Merilee, along with several couples, launched ‘Couples Who Care.’ The group is now up to 20 pairs, and they provide financial support and mentorship to teenagers under the care of the Durham Children's Aid Society.
When I asked Stephen what he loved about living in a small town, he immediately answered, “There is a natural, organic connection to people that is fostered in a small community, and I love being part of that.”
Recently, Stephen has joined the board of the Oak Ridges Hospice, a community-based charity, committed to establishing a new residential hospice in Port Perry, expected to be the first of its kind in Durham Region. This hospice home will enhance palliative support services in our community, and will lead the way for bringing this model of care to other locations in our Region.
Stephen Gray certainly fills his time with dedicated projects that enhance our community. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Medical Group Managers Association, and is involved in various local charitable organizations. Last year, he was awarded the prestigious Community Outreach Award. We are fortunate to have Stephen Gray as part of our community.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures, at photosNtravel.com
Jonathan van Bilsen
Join Jonathan van Bilsen in the Standard as he begins a series of feature articles on prominent residents of North Durham in his new column, The Story Behind The Person.