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Whitmore Gray

LRCCS Mourns the Passing of Whitmore Gray

November 6, 1932 – March 6, 2018

The Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies mourns the passing of Whitmore Gray, Professor Emeritus of Law.  Professor Gray passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 6, 2018 in Ann Arbor with his family at his side. He will be missed.

Whitmore Gray, son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, educator, lecturer, linguist, professor of law, legal scholar, musician, patron of the arts, world traveler, mentor & friend to many, died peacefully Sunday morning March 4, 2018. Born in Monroe Michigan, November 6, 1932, he was preceded in death by parents JS and Harriet (Kip) Gray, brother Grattan Gray, sister Thorne Hawley and daughter Sara.

Whitmore married Svea (Blomquist) Gray in Harvey Illinois in 1958. He was father to Sara, Maja, Lisa Tucker-Gray (Kim), Mark and Mikio; grandfather to Taylor Tucker-Gray, and children of Annette Apodaca: April, Angel, Hector and Marcos Apodaca. He made his primary residence with his family in Ann Arbor Michigan. They also enjoyed homes in New York City and Albuquerque (as well as the many homes they made together around the world traveling extensively to places including: Germany, Hong Kong, France, Mexico and Japan). Whit and Svea traveled the world frequently and fluently always submerged in the local people, language and culture. Early on he traveled with his whole family, later with dear friends, and in his last years, with just his beloved wife, Svea. Throughout all their travels it was sometimes for work and always for pleasure.

Whit and Svea shared a mutual and life-long passion for theater, ballet, opera and museums; he was a true patron of the arts. Over the years, their support of the arts included the creation of multiple scholarships through the University of Michigan including: the 1988 Ara Berberian Scholarship and the 2011 Marian Mercer Scholarship as well as numerous donations to the U of M Friends of Musical Theater providing additional scholarships, support and resources for music students at the University of Michigan.

Whit had deep roots in Monroe Michigan as his family was actively involved in the leadership and legacy of the Monroe Evening News for three generations; founded in 1825 and the state's longest continuously published newspaper.

He received his A.B. degree from Principia College in 1954 and JD degree from the University of Michigan in 1957. While in Law School he served as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review. Following graduation, he studied at the University of Paris and practiced law in New York City. He was awarded an LL.D. degree by Adrian College in 1982.

Professor Gray joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School as an assistant professor in 1960; he was promoted to associate professor in 1963 and professor in 1966 where he remained until his retirement in 1993 after a distinguished 33-year career of teaching and research.

In addition to a lifetime of teaching and research Whitmore practiced law at a number of different firms including: Casey, Lane & Mittendorf, New York City (1958-1960), Geary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City (1974-80) and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae (1994-2001).

In 1993 he was awarded Emeritus status from University of Michigan Law School and continued teaching for 20 years while also teaching at Fordham Law School, as the George Bacon-Victor Kilkenny Chair for a Distinguished Visiting Professor in New York City.  He served as guest lecturer and visiting professor around the world including Universities of Muenster and Tubingen in Germany, Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan, Universities in Mexico, China, France and Hong Kong and in the United States including Stanford and Princeton Universities. Professor Gray was a founding faculty member of the School of Transnational Law, Peking University in Shenzhen China (2008 - 2014).

He made numerous trips to Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Japan for lectures, research and teaching. During his robust career Professor Gray compiled extensive sets of teaching materials on contract law, alternate dispute resolution and comparative law. His work in comparative law has helped to shape this country’s understanding of law in Russia, Japan, China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Professor Gray was a member of the American Bar Association for over 60 years, the American Foreign Law Association, the Association of Asian Studies, and the University of Michigan Centers for Japanese and Chinese Studies.

To say that Whitmore Gray was a scholar of the world might just be the most accurate description. He loved his family, teaching, traveling, music and the arts, making connections around the world and living every last minute of life to its fullest.

A Memorial Service will take place at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, (306 N Division St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104), March 16, 2018 at 10:30am. A celebration of Whit’s life will take place in Ann Arbor this spring.  

Memorial Donations in Whitmore’s honor may be made to the following: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, The Breakfast at St. Andrew’s or Professor Emeritus Whitmore Gray Scholarship Fund at the University of Michigan Law School.

The obituary for Whitmore Gray was published with permission by the Monroe News, Monroe, MI.