C. Boyden Gray, R.I.P.

Published May 24, 2023

I regret to advise that C. Boyden Gray, 80, died this week of a heart attack at home in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.).

Boyden was a first-rate lawyer and a stalwart defender of freedom. He served as Counsel to the President under President George H.W. Bush, having served as Counsel to Vice President Bush during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Boyden was born on Mr. Reagan’s birthday (February 6th) in 1943 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His late grandfather, Gordon Gray, was President of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.  

His late father, Bowman Gray, was Secretary of the Army under President Truman and, under President Eisenhower, was the 4th National Security Advisor in U.S. history.  In between those stints, Bowman Gray served as President of the University of North Carolina.

His late older brother, Burton C. Gray, who died in 1989 at the age of 48, studied economics at The University of Chicago under Friedrich Hayek and became a pioneer in the development of computer languages, founding Scientific Time Sharing Corporation.  Burton was a member and trustee of the Philadelphia Society. Boyden went to college at Harvard University and to law school at the University of North Carolina.  He clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court for Chief Justice Earl Warren and served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

He started in politics as a Democrat, and ascribed his conversion to conservatism and the Republican Party to the experience of witnessing the Presidency of Jimmy Carter. In addition to his White House service, he was United States Ambassador to the European Union.

He served on the boards of the Federalist Society and the Atlantic Council.

For many years he practiced law at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Hale) in Washington, D.C.  Recently he was a principal of C. Boyden Gray and Associates, also a Washington-based law firm, and was highly active right until his sudden death.

He was a dear friend and trusted adviser of many, including me.  When I was Chairman of the General Counsels Committee of the Federal Bar Association, he was my Vice Chairman.

He was a superb lawyer and public servant, who will be missed by many.