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Wed, 08.20.1941

William Gray III, Politician born

William Gray III

*William Gray III was born on this date in 1941.  He was a Black politician and minister.  

William Herbert Gray III was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but grew up in St. Augustine, Florida, where his father was president of Florida Normal and Industrial Institute (later renamed Florida A and M University), and later in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Simon Gratz High School. He attended Franklin & Marshall College, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1963. He obtained a master's in divinity from Drew Theological Seminary in 1966 and a master's in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970. Gray received an L.H.D. from Bates College in 1994.  In 1972, Gray succeeded his father as the senior minister at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia.  

He was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1978. He represented Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district until his resignation on September 11, 1991. He was the first Black to chair the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as the Majority Whip (1989–1991). As chairman of the Committee on Budget, Gray introduced H.R. 1460, an anti-Apartheid bill that prohibited loans and new investment in South Africa and enforced sanctions on imports and exports with South Africa. This bill was an instrumental precursor to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.  

Gray resigned unexpectedly from Congress in 1991 to serve as president of the United Negro College Fund from 1991 to 2004. The move was considered surprising and prompted speculation that it may have been connected with an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by the Gray team. A Pennsylvania Senate seat had been left vacant when Senator John Heinz was killed in a plane crash. The party committees chose major-party candidates because it was too late for a primary. The speculation was that Attorney General Dick Thornburgh struck a deal with Gray, who had been the subject of an investigation into campaign finance irregularities and a grand jury investigation into his church's financial dealings.  Gray did not run.

He resigned from Congress two months earlier, and the Justice Department never brought charges against him.  Gray served as a special adviser to the President and Secretary of State for Haitian affairs in 1994. He was named to the Politics PA list of "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists."  Outside politics, he was also a businessman who has been a director at Dell since 2000. Gray was a director of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Prudential Financial Inc., Rockwell International Corporation, Visteon Corporation, and Pfizer.

He retired from Bright Hope Baptist Church in 2007 and was succeeded by Kevin R. Johnson.  He was co-founder of the government lobbying and advisory firm Gray Loeffler LLC, headquartered in Washington D.C.  Gray was married to the former Andrea Dash; they have three sons, William IV, Justin, and Andrew. Gray was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.  William Gray died in London on July 1, 2013, while attending the Wimbledon tennis tournament with his son Andrew. Gray's death came suddenly, and no cause of death has been given. He was 71.  

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