Fmr. Congressman William Gray laid to rest
NORTH PHILADELPHIA - July 13, 2013 (WPVI) -- A host of family members, local and national politicians gathered at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia to pay final respects to Reverend and former Congressman William Gray III.
Gray died July 1st at the age of 71.
The funeral service for Gray turned into a celebration of his life.
Family, friends, and notable democrats remembered him through song, laughter and memories.
"I tried always to do what Bill Gray told me to do and rarely he did what I wanted him to do," said former President Bill Clinton, during the service.
Gray tackled apartheid, became the first African-American House Majority Whip, and served as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Clinton says he did it to be a missionary for the poor.
"I'm really proud to look at the things he's done and the progress he made," said State Representative Dwight Evans.
"He was very much a facilitator, he brought both sides together unlike what seems to be going on in Washington these days," said Fmr. PA Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies.
Gray surprised many in his party by leaving the political world to join the National Negro College Fund.
"He told people, 'I can wait around the house and wait to be speaker or I can go educate the people of America and empower them," said Clinton.
Politics aside, Gray was a family man.
When he died two weeks ago, he was with his sons on a trip to Wimbeldon.
On Saturday, with their mother - Gray's wife of four decades, they shared their best memories in the same place where their father preached.
It was his home, they said, and a fitting place to give his final goodbye.
"The totality of the events gave me solace. He was with the people he loved, at the place he loved and he left this world holding the hand of a man of faith," said Justin Gray, son.
Organizers say the memorial service was exactly how Gray wanted it from how long it was to who spoke.
The service was public but his burial will be private.
philadelphia, local/state, annie mccormick
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