Robert Gray, Influential Lobbyist and Hill & Knowlton Exec, Dies at 92

Wielded Influence in D.C. for a Wide Range of Clients

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Robert Gray with Nancy Reagan and Michael Bloomberg.
Robert Gray with Nancy Reagan and Michael Bloomberg. Credit:

Robert Gray, former chairman of Hill & Knowlton, died last Friday in Miami, Hill & Knowlton said. He was 92.

Mr. Gray was an influential figure who helped develop the field of public affairs, combining PR and government lobbying.

A moderate Republican, Mr. Gray became a powerhouse in the political arena. He served as cabinet secretary for President Eisenhower, helped build President Nixon's election, was deputy director of Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign for president and co-chaired Mr. Reagan's inauguration. He was called the "First Flack" during the Reagan years, according to the Washington Post.

Mr. Gray first joined Hill & Knowlton in 1961 and built the company's influence as a director for its Washington office. He founded his own firm, Gray & Co., in 1981. After Gray & Co. grew rapidly, Hill & Knowlton brought Mr. Gray back into the fold by buying his company for a reported $21 million in 1986. Mr. Gray remained with the company and served as chairman of the board until 1992.

Clients during his long career spanned the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Playboy, Kuwait, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Teamsters president Jackie Presser and the Church of Scientology, according to reports.

"We owe Bob a debt of thanks for the role he played in building H+K -- one of the oldest and most respected firms in the world," Hill & Knowlton Chairman-CEO Jack Martin said in a post on the company's blog yesterday.

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