Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) released the following statement after the passing of former Congressman William "Bill" Gray (D-PA). He was 71 years old.
"I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of my friend and former colleague, Congressman Bill Gray. He was loved by everyone, and his legacy will continue to inspire all who knew him. I feel fortunate to have had the distinct honor of working with him over the years, as both a colleague and a friend. I join the people of Philadelphia and Americans across the nation in mourning the loss of an effective leader and passionate advocate of the public good. Bill Gray will certainly be missed.
"First elected in 1978, Congressman Gray's 12 years in Congress were marked by extraordinary achievement. Not only was he the first African-American to serve as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, he was also the first African-American to serve as Majority Whip. In addition to his outstanding leadership, Congressman Gray's skill as a politician and orator raised awareness about the talent of the Congressional Black Caucus.
"During his tenure, Congressman Gray also authored legislation that implemented economic sanctions against South Africa during apartheid. As our thoughts and prayers are with Nelson Mandela, we must remember and appreciate the fact that Congressman Gray spearheaded federal efforts to eradicate apartheid.
"Bill Gray was a close friend both to me and my husband, long before I entered Congress. At Bill's invitation, I was honored to serve as a guest speaker at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where Bill served as pastor until his retirement in 2007. My husband regularly played golf with Bill in Washington D.C. and other cities.
"Bill was a strong and influential advocate for his constituents in Philadelphia and Americans around the country. I extend my sincerest condolences to his wife Andrea and their three sons William IV, Justin and Andrew during this difficult time."