William H. Gray III, a former member of Congress who led the United Negro College Fund for more than a decade, died on July 1 in London. He was 71. Mr. Gray collapsed while attending the Wimbledon tennis tournament with one of his sons, The New York Times reported.
Mr. Gray came to the fund, which provides scholarships for students at more than three dozen private historically black colleges, in 1991. He had previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing a Pennsylvania district for 12 years and ending up as majority whip. He was also a Baptist minister, serving as pastor of a well-known church in Philadelphia for more than 30 years, and returning there to preach on Sundays during his years in Congress.
One of Mr. Gray’s most notable fund-raising coups with the United Negro College Fund came in 1999, when the fund secured the contract to administer the $1-billion Gates Millennium Scholarship Program. The program was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to give minority students access to a college education.
Mr. Gray is credited with raising more than $2.3-billion during his tenure as president and chief executive officer of the fund. In an interview with The Chronicle just before he retired, in 2003, he reflected on the purpose of and challenges facing historically black colleges and universities.Return to Top