A Life Well Lived
ABOVE PHOTO: Former POTUS Bill Clinton and wife Hillary Clinton was in attendance at the Celebration Of Life: Reverend William H Gray lll 2013 on Saturday, July 13 at Bright Hope Baptist Church located at 1601 N. 12th Street.
(Photo/ H Michael Hammie)
Last Saturday, the spiritual and political lives of former Congressman William H. Gray III were celebrated at a Memorial Service in his honor.
By Denise Clay
For many people around the nation and the world, William H. Gray III was a congressman, a man who made history in Congress, created the legislation that eventually brought down apartheid in South Africa through sanctions, and the head of an agency designed to connect African American students with money for college.
But to John Grinnage, a member of Bright Hope Baptist Church and the former President of the church’s Deacon Board, William H. Gray III was his minister, and someone who showed him a spiritual path.
“He was a grand man,” Grinnage said. “[Rev. Gray] helped others without asking for credit.”
PHOTO: Andrew Young and former Governor Ed Rendell was in attendance at the Celebration Of Life: Reverend William H Gray lll 2013 on Saturday, July 13 at Bright Hope Baptist Church located at 1601 N. 12th Street.
(Photo / H Michael Hammie)
People from all aspects of the life of William H. Gray III gathered at Bright Hope on Saturday for a memorial service celebrating the life of the man who was the first African American to serve as House Majority Whip and Budget Committee chair, minister and former head of the United Negro College Fund. Gray died on July 1 of a heart attack while watching the championships at Wimbledon with his son in London. He was 71.
The Rev. Kevin Johnson, who succeeded Gray as minister at Bright Hope, hosted the service and eulogized Gray as a man who used his talents to help his congregation at Bright Hope and around the world.
“Rev. Gray was God’s ram in the bush in terms of helping his community, the nation and the world,” he said.
PHOTO: Senator Vincent Hughes, filmmaker Louis Massiah and unidentified woman pose for photo following the Celebration Of Life: Reverend William H Gray lll 2013 on Saturday, July 13 at Bright Hope Baptist Church located at 1601 N. 12th Street.
(Photo / H Michael Hammie)
With music from the Bright Hope Choir, the service featured tributes from people who worked with Gray in all aspects of his life from Grinnage, the Deacon Board president, to former President Bill Clinton, who named Gray as his envoy to Haiti.
Clinton paid tribute to his friend at the service, reading Langston Hughes’ classic poem “Mother to Son” and telling the audience that while Gray wasn’t technically in the pulpit at Bright Hope all of the time, he was always ministering to others.
“I knew him for 25 years,” Clinton said. “He saw the world as his pulpit. He saw the budget committee as his pulpit. He saw that the real purpose of power was to empower other people.”
Clinton, and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, Mayor Michael Nutter, State Sen. Vincent Hughes, City Council President Darrell Clarke, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, former Congressmen Ron Dellums, and Bob Borski, current Congressmen Chaka Fattah, Charles Rangel and Sheila Jackson Lee, and others from Gray’s political life were on hand, but most didn’t speak at the service.
His wife, Andrea, sons William (Jennifer), Justin and Andrew, his mother, Hazel, and two grandchildren, survive Gray. His burial was private.
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