Kenneth J. Gray
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Illinois's 25th district
January 3, 1955 –January 3, 1963
|Preceded by||C. W. Bishop|
|Succeeded by||District abolished|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Illinois's 21st district
January 3, 1963 –January 3, 1973
|Preceded by||Peter F. Mack, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Edward R. Madigan|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Illinois's 24th district
January 3, 1973 –December 31, 1974
|Preceded by||Melvin Price|
|Succeeded by||Paul Simon|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Illinois's 22nd district
January 3, 1985 –January 3, 1989
|Preceded by||Paul Simon|
|Succeeded by||Glenn Poshard|
|Born||November 14, 1924|
West Frankfort, Illinois
|Died||July 12, 2014 89) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Gwendolyn June Croslin (1927-1995)|
Margaret "Toedy" Holley-Gray
Kenneth James Gray (November 14, 1924 – July 12, 2014) was an American businessman and politician. He was a veteran of World War II, and represented Illinois in the United States House of Representatives from 1955 to 1974, and again from 1985 to 1989.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.
The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.
Born in West Frankfort, Illinois, Gray attended the West Frankfort and Pope County elementary schools and graduated from Frankfort Community High School.At age 13 Gray started a business -– Gray's Roller Rink -– at which he performed almost every job alone, from floor manager to concession stand cashier to janitor. At age 16, he became an auctioneer, and at age 18 he became the owner of the Gray Motors car dealership, which he operated until 1954.
West Frankfort is a city in Franklin County, Illinois, United States. The population was 8,182 at the 2010 census. The city is part of the Metro Lakeland area.
Frankfort Community High School (FCHS) is a public high school located in West Frankfort, Illinois serving grades 9 through 12. The campus consists of 5 buildings: FCHS Main School Building, Max Morris Gymnasium, FCHS Vocational Building, Johnson Field, and the FCHS Weight Training Facility. The school's enrollments is approximately 605, with about 150 per grade. FCHS serves as the only local high school for the neighboring communities of Orient, Pershing, and Deering. Being an iconic symbol of the city for over ninety four years, the school still serves the community as the only High School.
In January, 1943 Gray enlisted in the Army Air Forces for World War II.He served as with the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa, with the combat engineers of the Fifth Army in Italy, and again with the Twelfth Air Force in Southern France and elsewhere in Europe. Gray was an aircraft crew chief and attained the rank of first sergeant before being discharged in December 1945.
The United States Army Air Forces, informally known as the Air Force, or United States Army Air Force, was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which in 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.
The Twelfth Air Force is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC). It is headquartered at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
The Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre was a major theatre of operations during the Second World War. The vast size of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre saw interconnected naval, land, and air campaigns fought for control of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. The fighting in this theatre lasted from 10 June 1940, when Italy entered the war on the side of Nazi Germany, until 2 May 1945 when all Axis forces in Italy surrendered. However, fighting would continue in Greece – where British troops had been dispatched to aid the Greek government – during the early stages of the Greek Civil War.
According to the authors of Pass the Plate, a 2009 biography of Gray, he was at the Greenham Common air base in June, 1944 and was assigned as Dwight D. Eisenhower's driver when Eisenhower met with Company E, 502nd Infantry Regiment shortly before the unit boarded planes and departed for the assault on Normandy. The authors also indicate that Gray can be seen in the well-known photo of Eisenhower speaking with soldiers including First Lieutenant Wallace C. Strobel.
Royal Air Force Greenham Common or RAF Greenham Common is a former Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England. The airfield was southeast of Newbury, Berkshire, about 55 miles (89 km) west of London.
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.
The 502nd Infantry Regiment, previously titled the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, is an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army. The regiment was established shortly after the American entry into World War II, and was assigned as a regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, "The Screaming Eagles", one of the most decorated formations of the U.S. Army. The regiment saw substantial action in the European Theater of World War II and was deactivated in 1945, shortly after the end of the war. Reactivating in a new form in 1956, the 502nd Infantry has served in the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. since 1974, the regiment has been classified as an Air Assault unit. Currently, its 1st and 2nd battalions are active. Both battalions are assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Gray's awards included the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.
The World War II Victory Medal is a service medal of the United States military which was established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945.
After the war Gray was active in the American Legion, and was commander of the Southern Illinois region. In addition he served as Vice President of the Illinois Jaycees, and he credited these experiences with giving him the contacts and name recognition to mount a race for Congress.
The American Legion is a U.S. war veterans' organization headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is made up of state, U.S. territory, and overseas departments, and these are in turn made up of local posts. The legislative body of The American Legion is a national convention, held annually. The organization was founded on March 15, 1919, at the American Club near Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, by members of the American Expeditionary Forces, and it was chartered on September 16, 1919, by the U.S. Congress.
The United States Junior Chamber, also known as the Jaycees, JCs or JCI USA, is a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 40. It is a branch of Junior Chamber International (JCI). Areas of emphasis are business development, management skills, individual training, community service, and international connections. The U.S. Junior Chamber is a not-for-profit corporation/organization as described under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4).
Gray also completed training as an airplane and helicopter pilot and operated an air service at Benton, Illinois from 1948 to 1952.
In 1950 Gray campaigned for a seat in the U.S. House. He lost the Democratic nomination to Kent E. Keller, who lost the general election to incumbent C. W. Bishop.Gray opted not to run again in 1952.
In 1953 Gray was one of the founders of the Walking Dog Foundation for the Blind, a charitable organization to provide guide dogs to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Gray was the successful Democratic nominee against Bishop in 1954 and won election to the 84th Congress.He was reelected nine times, and served from January 3, 1955, until his resignation on December 31, 1974. In Congress, Gray eventually decided to stand out from his peers by adopting out of the ordinary clothing and hairstyles, and became known for his flamboyant appearance, including permed hair dyed bright blonde or red, and unusual attire, such as white sport coats and shoes, bright suits, and wide, colorful patterned bow ties. In a deadpan joke frequently repeated by Glenn Poshard, when Poshard met Jim Wright in 1989 and introduced himself as Gray's successor, Speaker Wright joked about Gray's appearance by looking the conservatively dressed Poshard up and down and saying "I didn't know you could buy a pinstriped suit in southern Illinois."
Gray was known as the primary backer of converting Washington, D.C.'s Union Station into the National Visitor Center for the United States Bicentennial.The center was open in time for the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, but was plagued with poor design and workmanship, and cost overruns. It was closed again after the Bicentennial, and in the late 1980s it was redeveloped again to serve as a train station and retail center.
He was also well known as an advocate of federal spending for his district, and used his post as a senior member of the Public Works Committee to obtain approval of projects including interstate highways, dams, housing, and the Marion Penitentiary. Dubbed the "Prince of Pork" for his securing of over $7 billion for projects in his area,Gray countered by pointing out that the Army Corps of Engineers estimated that the dam that created Rend Lake saved hundreds of millions of dollars in property losses by limiting damage during floods of the Big Muddy River, saying "If that is pork, pass me the plate, because I'll take another heaping serving."
Gray was an amateur magician and performed for civic groups and youth organizations in his district. In a 1956 House speech on the creation of the proposed Interstate Highway System, Gray carried a bouquet of red roses to the lectern to illustrate the "rosy" prospects for the road network as originally conceived. As he described the lobbyists and special interests who were "killing" the program piecemeal, Gray dramatized the point by snapping flowers off each stem of the bouquet until all the blossoms were gone. Then, as Gray reached the conclusion of his speech—that the lobbyists were going to fail and that the prospects for the Interstate Highway bill looked "rosy" again—white roses bloomed from the bare stems, and Gray earned an ovation from his colleagues.Another example of Gray's abilities came during a private show, when Senator Estes Kefauver and he successfully performed the body levitation trick using Senator J. Allen Frear Jr. as the subject. In 1959, Gray appeared on the TV game show To Tell the Truth . Two panelists -- Polly Bergen and Tom Poston—correctly guessed that Gray was a member of Congress, auctioneer, and magician, but the other two panelists -- Ralph Bellamy and Monique van Vooren—did not. In 1966, Gray appeared as a guest challenger on the TV game show I've Got a Secret . Introduced as a magician and pilot, he successfully stumped the panel, which did not guess that he was a member of Congress.
Gray resided on a houseboat while serving in Congress.In the mid-1970s there were several media accounts indicating that he had employed Elizabeth Ray and was involved in a lifestyle of wild parties and sex involving members of Congress and Congressional staff members. Gray denied wrongdoing, but was not a candidate for reelection in 1974 to the 94th Congress. He was succeeded by Paul Simon. After leaving Congress, Gray was active in several business ventures, including Ken Gray's Antique Car Museum.
In 1984 Simon ran for the United States Senate. – January 3, 1989). As with the later years of his first tenure, during his return to Congress Gray was commended for using his knowledge of parliamentary procedure and House rules, along with the public speaking and gavel-wielding skills he had developed as an auctioneer to frequently preside over the House, and members of both parties praised him for his tact and fairness.Gray ran again for the U.S. House and was elected to the 99th and 100th Congresses (January 3, 1985
Gray indicated that he was not running for reelection in 1988 because of a muscular disorder caused by a tick bite that happened while Gray was on a congressional visit to Brazil.
In retirement, Gray was a resident of West Frankfort, and he opened a museum to showcase his political memorabilia and other mementos and souvenirs. In 1999, he suffered a stroke that left his speech slurred and his right side paralyzed.
He died on July 12, 2014, in Herrin, Illinois, at the age of 89.He was buried at East Fork Cemetery in West Frankfort.
During World War II Gray married Gwendolyn June Croslin.They were the parents of three children, Dian, Becky, and James; Gray's son James predeceased him. Gwendolyn Gray died in 1995; Gray's second wife was the Reverend Margaret "Toedy" Holley-Gray, who survived him.
The United States court house and post office in Benton, Illinois is the Kenneth Gray Federal Building.
In 2008, the post office in West Frankfort was named for him.
Also in 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich designated Interstate 57 between Mile Post 0 at the Illinois State Line and Mile Post 106 at the Marion/Jefferson County Line as the "Ken Gray Expressway."
The Ken Gray Scholarship was created at John A. Logan College (JALC) in 2008. The scholarship is awarded to JALC students from Franklin County who are in their second year and plan to attend Southern Illinois University.
Gray was the subject of a biography, 2009's Pass the Plate: The Legend & Legacy of United States Congressman Kenneth J. Gray, by Maxine Pyle and Marleis Trover.
In 2016 Gray's wife closed the Ken Gray Museum and donated Gray's collection of memorabilia and other items to Morthland College.The college closed in 2018, and as of September 2018 the whereabouts of the collection is unknown. The college's attorney indicated in news accounts that the building the collection was housed in was robbed and an FBI investigation was opened.
Interstate 57 (I-57) is an Interstate Highway in Missouri and Illinois that parallels the old Illinois Central rail line for much of its route. It goes from Sikeston, Missouri, at Interstate 55 to Chicago, Illinois, at Interstate 94. I-57 essentially serves as a shortcut route for travelers headed between the south and Chicago, bypassing St. Louis, Missouri. Between the junction of I-55 and I-57 in Sikeston, Missouri and the junction of I-55 and I-90/94 in Chicago, I-55 travels for 436 miles (702 km), while the combination of I-57 and I-94 is only 396 miles (637 km) long between the same two points. In fact, both the control cities on the overhead signs, as well as destination mileage signs, reference Memphis along southbound I-57, even as far north as its northern origin at I-94 in Chicago. Likewise, at its southern end, Chicago is the control city listed for I-57 on signs on northbound I-55 south of Sikeston, Missouri, even though I-55 also goes to Chicago.
Paul Martin Simon was an American author and politician from Illinois. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985, and in the United States Senate from 1985 to 1997. A member of the Democratic Party, he unsuccessfully ran for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.
Leslie Cornelius Arends was a Republican politician from Illinois who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1935 until 1974.
Glendal William Poshard is a former Illinois State Senator, U.S. Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and president of the Southern Illinois University system.
David Dwain Phelps is a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois.
William Franklin Goodling was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. At the time of his death, he was the Chairman of the Board of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy.
Michael Joseph Bost is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, he has served as the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 12th congressional district since 2015. From 1995 to 2015, Bost was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 115th district. Prior to winning elective office, Bost was a firefighter.
The 12th Congressional District of Illinois is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Illinois which has been represented by Republican Rep. Mike Bost since 2015.
Metro Lakeland is a name that was coined in the 1960s for an area of southern Illinois that is centered on the intersections of Interstate 57, Interstate 24, and Illinois Route 13 — a four-lane east-west highway connecting the communities of Murphysboro, Carbondale, Carterville, Herrin, Marion, and Harrisburg. Metro Lakeland was defined as Jackson, Williamson, Franklin, Saline, and Perry counties, with a combined population of approximately 210,000. Carbondale, Herrin, and Marion are the key urban areas, with a combined city-proper population of over 65,000 Carbondale, the site of Southern Illinois University, is the region's largest city. Metro Lakeland is about 88 miles (142 km) southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, or 120 miles (190 km) by Interstate highway.
Tim Lee Hall was an American politician and Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois for one term from 1975 to 1977.
Floyd James Fithian was an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Indiana. A member of the Democratic Party, Fithian represented Indiana's 2nd congressional district from 1975 into 1983.
John Bradley is a former Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 117th District from his appointment in June 2003 to his resignation in January 2017. He served as an Assistant Majority Leader from 2013 to 2017. The 117th district, located in Southern Illinois and parts of the Metro Lakeland area, includes all or parts of Benton, Buckner, Bush, Cambria, Carbondale, Carterville, Christopher, Colp, Crab Orchard, Creal Springs, Energy, Ewing, Freeman Spur, Granville, Hanaford, Herrin, Hurst, Johnston City, Macedonia, Marion, McLeansboro, Mulkeytown, North City, Orient, Pittsburg, Royalton, Sesser, Spillertown, Stonefort, Thompsonville, Valier, West City, West Frankfort, Whiteash, and Zeigler.
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The 22nd Congressional District of Illinois was a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives in Illinois. It was eliminated as a result of the 1990 Census. It was last represented by Glenn Poshard who was redistricted into the 19th District.
The 21st Congressional District of Illinois was a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives in Illinois. It was eliminated as a result of the 1990 Census. It was last represented by Jerry Costello who was redistricted into the 12th District.
Robert L. Butler served as the Mayor of Marion, Illinois from May 1963 until he resigned on January 31, 2018 for health reasons. At the time of his resignation, he was the second longest-serving mayor in the United States.
John Younker Simon was an American Civil War scholar known for editing the papers of Ulysses S. Grant.
Morthland College (MC) was a private Christian liberal arts college in West Frankfort, Illinois. The school was founded in 2009 by Dr. Tim Morthland and opened in 2011 as a small, co-educational liberal arts college. The college had an initial enrollment of forty students and 300-400 students prior to its closure in 2018. Morthland College athletic teams were known as the Patriots. The college was a member of the NCCAA in the Division-I Mid-East Region.
The 2016 United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois were held on November 8, 2016, to elect the 18 U.S. Representatives from the state of Illinois, one from each of the state's 18 congressional districts. The elections coincided with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as other elections to the House of Representatives, elections to the United States Senate and various state and local elections.
Jim Kirkpatrick was a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 117th district for a brief period in January 2017. He was appointed to fill the vacancy left by John Bradley's early retirement after the latter's loss to Dave Severin. The 117th district, located in Southern Illinois and parts of the Metro Lakeland area, includes all or parts of Benton, Buckner, Bush, Cambria, Carbondale, Carterville, Christopher, Colp, Crab Orchard, Creal Springs, Energy, Ewing, Freeman Spur, Granville, Hanaford, Herrin, Hurst, Johnston City, Macedonia, Marion, McLeansboro, Mulkeytown, North City, Orient, Pittsburg, Royalton, Sesser, Spillertown, Stonefort, Thompsonville, Valier, West City, West Frankfort, Whiteash, and Zeigler.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
C. W. Bishop
| U.S. Representative of Illinois' 25th Congressional District |
Peter F. Mack, Jr.
| U.S. Representative of Illinois' 21st Congressional District |
Edward R. Madigan
| U.S. Representative of Illinois' 24th Congressional District |
| U.S. Representative of Illinois' 22nd Congressional District |