The Volokh Conspiracy

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Ambassador C. Boyden Gray (1943-2023)


I am deeply saddened to share that C. Boyden Gray has passed away. It is very hard to put into words all the Gray accomplished throughout his remarkable life. The Washington Post immediately published a pre-written obituary–a sign of his profound reputation in D.C. and nationwide.

Adam White and Jenn Mascott offered their remembrances here:

C. Boyden Gray touched so many people's lives — as a public servant, a trusted counselor, an advocate, a mentor and a friend. The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State joins countless others in mourning his passing. For all of us, this is a moment of deep sadness and deep gratitude.

Much will be written of Boyden in the weeks and months ahead, but it seems impossible to do complete justice to his legacy. He loved his family, his friends, and his country. He served his country many times over: in the Marine Corps Reserves, as a Supreme Court clerk, as counsel to Vice President and then President George H.W. Bush, and finally as a U.S. ambassador and special envoy. In 1993, President Bush awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal.

He loved American institutions, and he took great joy in supporting and building them. He aided and founded institutions in government, in the legal profession, in academia, and throughout his city and his country. The Gray Center was just one of many that benefitted immensely from his support, his tireless effort, and his counsel. He cared especially about the need to create opportunity for those who face the greatest adversity.

In all of this, he drew great inspiration from the public service of his father, the late Gordon Gray, who served his country, led the University of North Carolina, and chaired the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And he cherished the memory of other great friends and mentors, including George H.W. Bush and Lloyd Cutler.

Boyden radiated excitement for history and for ideas. One moment he might be discussing a constitutional issue; the next moment, the republic of Venice. One moment a complicated regulatory issue; the next, the Scottish Enlightenment.

But above all, he loved his family. Our hearts go out to Eliza, Nick, and their children—the grandchildren who, at every mention, caused Boyden to beam with joy.

As stewards of an institution that bears his name, we join all of Boyden's friends, students, and colleagues who mourn his death and celebrate his life. We were lucky to know such a great and good man.


Adam White & Jennifer Mascott

The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State

Antonin Scalia Law School

Rest in peace, Ambassador Gray.