Pro-lifers across the country were saddened to hear the news that Nellie Gray, leader of the annual March for Life, one of the largest anti-abortion demonstrations in the U.S., died over the weekend. She was 88.
According to The Washington Post, “Gene Ruane, a March for Life staffer and friend of Nellie’s, said that he found Miss Gray dead Monday in her Capitol Hill home and that the chief medical examiner will determine the cause and date of her death.”
Born and raised in Big Spring, Texas in 1924, Gray joined the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and served in Europe.
Prior to her decades of pro-life advocacy, Gray spent 28 years working as a lawyer for the U.S. Government in the Departments of State and Labor before retiring in the early 70s.
After the the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973, however, Gray committed her life to overturning the ruling and organized the first March for Life the following year.
“She sort of came out of nowhere after her retirement as a government employee and began an annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. And that was her total thrust. But it became an annual major show of force – I guess you could say – of interest, of concern for the entire nation,” Dr. Jack Willke, founder of the National Right to Life Committee, told CNS News.
The first March for Life, held on the first anniversary of Roe v. Wade, brought out 20,000 marchers, but has grown through the years. The 2012 march is estimated to have drawn more than 400,000 people.
“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, a pro-life advocacy group. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’”
Nellie Gray is survived by three nieces and one nephew, all whom live in Texas.