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Remembering Professor Whitmore Gray,


March 6, 2018

Professor Whitmore Gray, '57, son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, educator, lecturer, linguist, professor of law, legal scholar, musician, patron of the arts, world traveler, mentor, and friend to many, died peacefully Sunday morning March 4, 2018. Born in Monroe, Michigan, on November 6, 1932, he was preceded in death by parents, JS and Harriet (Kip) Gray; brother, Grattan Gray;sister, Thorne Hawley; and daughter, Sara.

Professor Gray married Svea (Blomquist) Gray in Harvey, Illinois, in 1958. He was father to Sara, Maja, Lisa Tucker-Gray (Kim), Mark, and Mikio, and grandfather to Taylor Tucker-Gray, Michael Gray, and the children of Annette Apodaca: April, Angel, Hector, and Marcos Apodaca. He made his primary residence with his family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They also enjoyed homes in New York City and Albuquerque, New Mexico (as well as the many homes they made together around the world, including Germany, Hong Kong, France, Mexico, and Japan). Professor Gray and Svea traveled the world frequently and fluently, always submerged in the local people, language, and culture. Early on he traveled with his whole family, later with dear friends, and in his last years, with just his beloved wife, Svea. Throughout all their travels it was sometimes for work and always for pleasure.

Professor Gray and Svea shared a mutual and lifelong passion for theater, ballet, opera, and museums; he was a true patron of the arts. Over the years, their support of the arts included the creation of multiple scholarships through the University of Michigan including the 1988 Ara Berberian Scholarship and the 2011 Marian Mercer Scholarship, as well as numerous donations to the U-M Friends of Musical Theater, which provided additional scholarships, support, and resources for music students at the University of Michigan.

Professor Gray had deep roots in Monroe, Michigan, as his family was actively involved in the leadership and legacy of the Monroe Evening News for three generations. It was founded in 1825 and is the state's longest continuously published newspaper.

He received his AB from Principia College in 1954 and his JD from the University of Michigan Law School in 1957. While in law school he served as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review. Following graduation, he studied at the University of Paris and practiced law in New York City. He was awarded an LLD degree by Adrian College in 1982.

Professor Gray joined the faculty of Michigan Law as an assistant professor in 1960; he was promoted to associate professor in 1963, and professor in 1966, where he remained until his retirement in 1993 after a distinguished 33-year career of teaching and research.

In addition to a lifetime of teaching and research, Professor Gray practiced law at a number of different firms including: Casey, Lane & Mittendorf, New York City (1958–1960); Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, New York City (1974–1980); and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, New York City (1994–2001).

In 1993, he was awarded emeritus status from Michigan Law and continued teaching for 20 years while also teaching at Fordham Law School, as the George Bacon-Victor Kilkenny Chair for a Distinguished Visiting Professor in New York City. He served as a guest lecturer and visiting professor around the world, including at the universities of Muenster and Tubingen in Germany; the universities of Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan; and universities in Mexico, China, France, Hong Kong, and the United States, including Stanford and Princeton universities. Professor Gray was a founding faculty member of the School of Transnational Law at Peking University in Shenzhen, China, from 2008 to 2014.

He made numerous trips to Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Japan for lectures, research, and teaching. During his robust career, Professor Gray compiled extensive sets of teaching materials on contract law, alternate dispute resolution, and comparative law. His work in comparative law has helped to shape this country's understanding of law in Russia, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Professor Gray was a member of the American Bar Association for more than 60 years, the American Foreign Law Association, the Association of Asian Studies, and the U-M centers for Japanese and Chinese Studies.

To say that Professor Gray was a scholar of the world might just be the most accurate description. He loved his family, teaching, traveling, music, the arts, making connections around the world, and living every last minute of life to its fullest.

A memorial service for Professor Gray will take place at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (306 N. Division St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104) on Friday, March 16, at 10:30 a.m. A celebration of Professor Gray's life will take place in Ann Arbor this spring.

Memorial donations in Professor Gray's honor may be made to the following:

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