Remembering Former Hill+Knowlton Chairman/CEO Bob Gray

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By Patrick Coffee Comment

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Over the weekend we learned of the passing of Bob Gray: Nebraska-born author, lobbyist, presidential adviser, founder of Gray and Co. and onetime CEO/chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies. He was 92.

While Gray began his career in politics before joining H+K, he is best known as “first flack” for President Ronald Reagan. Gray worked on Reagan’s campaign, co-chaired his inaugural committee and went on to become the prototypical lobbyist.

Gray joined H+K to run the firm’s D.C. office in 1961 after working as an aide to Dwight Eisenhower, and while current CEO Jack Martin describes him as “a moderate Republican” in a remembrance, Gray was not a partisan when it came to hiring and building business partnerships–and he played an outsized role in turning H+K into the firm it is today.

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A quote attributed to Gray by strategic counselor Frank Mankiewicz reads:

“…if you hire good, competent people, the clients will follow. That’s how we’re going to build our business.”

While some journalists and political observers questioned the ethics of Gray’s influence, a Washington Post reporter once described him as:

“…a kind of legend in this town…the man in the black tuxedo with snow-white hair and a smile like a diamond.”

Gray worked with five presidents; these images come via H+K and his “Presidential Gallery.