Carlos Ishmael Gray-Lion was born in Detroit on December 4, 1941. He passed away in Ann Arbor on December 18, 2023.

His parents Paul and Patricia Gray-Lion raised him in the ways and teachings of the Blue Clan of the Cherokee Nation. He was always eager to share this culture and philosophy and was an active participant in the Native American Student Association in college.

He was a proud music graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. He attended The University of Michigan in both the School of Music and Engineering College. He held a variety of jobs in music and electronics and always found a way to incorporate his love of teaching in both fields. He co-founded Doya Video Systems in 1983 with Joanne Ladio who became his partner in life as well as in business. The last 17 years of his life were spent battling the effects of a major stroke and his efforts toward recovery proved his strength of mind.

He valued his time as part of Huron Valley PACE and attended their day program every week. He felt welcome and useful there and was grateful for their care. For the last year and a half, he resided at Linden Square Assisted Living in Saline. When he was able, he actively participated in the life of St. Barnabas Church in Chelsea and then became a regular attendee at their Zoom worship.

He is survived by Joanne and his daughters Diana Ladio, Rosanna, Julia, and Marion Gray-Lion, five grandchildren – Alexandria, Cana, Isaac, Christina, and Randy – and one great-grandson, Forrest, his sister Alycia, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A memorial gathering was held at St. Barnabas Church on January 13, 2024 from 3-5pm with a short service at 3.30pm. Memorial contributions could be made to St. Barnabas in Chelsea, MI and to The MOX Project, Diana’s non-profit to bring the excitement of music to underserved schools.


Click here to watch the recording of Carlos' memorial service.

You may use the form below to share a memory or a public message for Carlos's family. Please allow 24hrs. for us to review and post your comment.


#10 Charles Thomas 2024-01-11 18:29
When I was a child, I knew Alycia, the sister of Carlos. More recently, I became acquainted with his daughters Rosanna and Marion. It has been inspiring reading the wonderful comments about Carlos on this page. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
#9 Terry Oliver 2024-01-04 11:16
Joanne, so sorry for your loss. My heart-felt condolences to you and your family.
#8 Beverly Brown Shull 2023-12-29 11:45
My condolences, may God grant you strength I never met him but he was my mom's brother, Sleep in peace 9cam7
#7 Bill Lynch 2023-12-29 10:43
I always enjoyed my short visits with Carlos at several concerts for Diana. He was inspiring with his positive attitude and always present smile. He was a good man, who has left a legacy to be proud of.
#6 Debbie Holefka 2023-12-29 08:13
So sorry to see the loss of Carlos - may the good times you shared help you during this difficult time. Peace be with all of you.
Thinking of you Diana.
#5 Tina berry 2023-12-26 17:37
Carlos was the very best of people. He reminded me how much joy and levity are a part of life, even when circumstances are difficult. I admire Carlos’ tenacity in education and advocacy. He left a big imprint on our family. Music, Cherokee culture and parenting were always areas Carlos shared his passion for. But he also lead by example in his devotion to welcoming others into community and holding leadership accountable to be their best selves. His standard were high, and they should be. He really believed we could be the best versions of ourselves. And he was there to cheer us on towards it. The world doesn’t make an unlimited number of Carlos Gray-Lions. He was special and I’m so thankful to have known him.

You will be missed, my friend.
#4 Val McMurtrie 2023-12-23 12:08
I knew Carlos from Pace. He was a very gentle person and added a lot to our program at Pace. My prayers are with all of his friends and family during this time and the many days ahead as you grieve. So many good memories of Carlos.
#3 Michael Rippel 2023-12-23 11:50
So sorry to hear about your loss, our condolences to you and your family.
#2 Pat Kaminsky 2023-12-22 17:17
Such a beautiful soul. Remembering interesting and happy dinners together with the 2 Dans and Susan. So glad his music spirit lives on in Diana.
I can still see Carlos at the table with Dan as Dan blew out his 70th birthday candles.
#1 Dale Magee 2023-12-22 15:38
Carlos seemed to keep his good nature and mild mannered personality throughout his years of struggle with the effects of his stroke. I also enjoyed his sense of humor. We attended many concerts, mostly Diana's, and were friends. I didn't see him often but I will miss him.

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