Bob Gray, whose clients included Haitian dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the Church of Scientology, Teamsters and Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, died April 18 from heart troubles at a Miami hospital.
Larger-than-life Gray, among the first PR execs to bill $350 hourly, is remembered for heading the first PA/lobbying firm to go public on the New York Stock Exchange and winding down an illustrious carrier with a high-profile defamation lawsuit.
Headquartered in a former electrical station in Georgetown called the "Power House," Gray & Co. was Washington’s most elite lobbyist with Gray a fixture on the social circuit. He was featured on the covers of Time and US News & World Report.
The former appointments secretary to President Dwight Eisenhower joined Hill & Knowlton in 1961 and rose to Washington chief.
After advising President Nixon’s campaign, Gray served as deputy director of Reagan-Bush in 1980 and was the new president’s first appointment as co-chairman of the inauguration committee.
Gray left H&K to form Gray & Co. in 1981 and sold shares to the public four years later.
H&K took a majority stake in G&C for $21M in 1988 and made Gray worldwide chairman.
Gray left H&K in 1992, the year that Susan Trento wrote the highly critical blockbuster book, “The Power House: Robert Keith Gray and the Selling of Access and Influence in Washington.”
He sued Trento and St. Martin’s Press for defamation. The case was eventually dismissed.
Gray wrote “Eighteen Acres Under Glass, a 1962 book about his time with Eisenhower, and “Presidential Perks Gone Royal: Your Taxes Are Being Used for Obama’s Re-election” (2012).
He moved to Florida about 20 years ago and is survived by his partner of two decades, Efrain Machado, and a sister.