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College » BA » News Archive » Feature

In Memoriam: Harry J. Gray, 1919-2009

07/09/2009

Photo: Harry J. Gray

Harry Jack Gray, president of Harry Gray Associates of Florida, alumnus and friend of ILLINOIS died Wednesday. He was 89.

Gray died peacefully with his family around him in New England, according to a statement from the family.

Gray remains an icon in the business world for building United Technologies Corporation and redefining the hostile takeover. A bold and charismatic leader, Gray became president of United Aircraft in 1971, later renamed UTC, and by 1986 increased its sales from $2 billion to $16 billion. Gray was among the nation’s highest profile and outspoken executives, helping to define the modern corporation through efficiency and innovation.

After retiring from UTC, Gray became a generous philanthropist donating millions of dollars to hospitals, museums and universities. A member of the President’s Council and lifetime member of the Alumni Association, Gray directed the University of Illinois Foundation Board from 1983 to 1989. He was also vice president from 1989 to 1992, after which he remained a Life Director and active contributor to the University. He created the Harry J. Gray Professorship in Executive Leadership in the College of Business, currently held by Interim Associate Dean of Faculty Gregory Northcraft.

Chancellor Richard Herman recalls, "I was fortunate to have met Mr. Gray several times in the last years of his life. It was a privilege to know him, and I was proud that his passion for this institution was as fervent in the final years of his life as it had been in his youth. The Illinois family has lost a very dear friend."

Born in Milledgeville Crossroads, Georgia, Gray received bachelors and masters degrees in Journalism from ILLINOIS in 1941 and 1947, respectively. He was a decorated World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

“Harry’s legacy of achievement and philanthropy will inspire future generations of Illinois students to see possibilities and seize opportunities,” said College of Business Dean Larry DeBrock. “His passing is a great loss for our community, but his influence remains a great gift.”

Related:

Harry Gray, Builder Of United Technologies Corp. And Philanthropist, Dies At 89 - Hartford Courant