Foundation’s Trani Award Honors Gray for Legacy of Service

Bill Gray wasn’t one to grandstand.  

Rather, a caring nature and respectful, gentle demeanor belied his legal brilliance, which he generously offered to the MCV Foundation for more than 20 years.

Bill Gray Photo: Daniel Sangjib Min, MCV Foundation

Gray, a prominent Richmond-area estate planning attorney who is now retired, is known locally and nationally for his expertise with nonprofits. He served as an MCV Foundation trustee from 1995 to 2014 and is a lifetime honorary trustee. 

His passion is to make a difference and he does that quietly, in the background.

Gail Johnson, MCV Foundation lifetime honorary trustee and former board chair

As the foundation’s counsel, Gray led the board through several revisions of bylaws and articles of incorporation, which still stand today. He navigated numerous complex memorandums of understanding with VCU. One of the most complicated situations involved the dissolving of the former MCV Alumni Association and its subsequent request that the MCV Foundation take over its funds through new gift agreements.   

Gray was honored with the MCV Foundation’s esteemed Trani Award during its annual awards event June 10 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Established in honor of Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., who served as president of VCU from 1990 to 2009, this award recognizes exceptional dedication and support of the MCV Campus. 

Simply put, “we had Bill when we needed someone like Bill,” said Joe Teefey, an MCV Foundation lifetime honorary trustee. He noted that Gray had the unique ability to get along with everyone on the board while always advocating for what was best for the foundation. During tense legal situations, it was the seasoned legal veteran’s calm presence and sound judgement that kept board members and foundation leadership focused and productive.   

Bill Gray with Margaret Ann Bollmeier, president and CEO of MCV Foundation at the MCV Foundation Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony. Photo: Daniel Sangjib Min, MCV Foundation

“His passion is to make a difference and he does that quietly, in the background,” said Gail Johnson, an MCV Foundation lifetime honorary trustee and former board chair. “He’s caring and thoughtful and he believes in the mission of the foundation.”   

When Gray spoke, albeit softly, people listened, said John Martin, also  lifetime honorary trustee. 

“His contributions over 20 years kept us in the middle of the road and allowed the foundation to do what it does best to support the VCU Health campus,” Martin said. “There were so many complicated issues that came along, but in retrospect, they don’t seem complicated because Bill Gray was at the center.” 

Martin said as the foundation continued to grow, so did its impact through VCU Health. Gray understood that impact, Martin said, and was instrumental in helping the foundation build on success while also preparing for the future.  

“He knew the DNA of the foundation and he understood how big the foundation was and how important it was, and he was the guiding hand that made sure our operation was running smoothly, that we were within the bounds of all legal matters and that we didn’t have to worry about how stakeholders related to us,” Martin said. “There’s simply no one with more integrity than Bill Gray — he leads in a very quiet manner, but he’s someone you can always count on.”