Three Things I Learned From Boyden Gray (

I learned this past weekend that the man who had been my boss, mentor and friend, C. Boyden Gray, had passed away peacefully at his home in Washington, D.C., at 80 years old. I had seen him only last week, at his magnificent yellow house in Georgetown, where we sat together and talked about everything from law to politics to kids and grandkids.

After the initial shock of his loss passed, I felt two distinct emotions: Sorrow that Boyden’s unmatched wisdom and wit would no longer be but a phone call away; and gratitude, for all that he taught me in the two years I worked for him, lessons that had made him — for me and for so many others — a fixed star by which to navigate the legal profession and world beyond.

Like his father, Gordon Gray, the second president of the University of North Carolina, Clayland Boyden Gray was a natural teacher. To observe him and work with him — reviewing his penciled line edits on draft briefs, submissions to federal agencies, and op-eds — was to learn from him. Among too many other lessons to recount, I learned from him a distinct approach to law, American history and statesmanship.


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