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The Honorable Jon R. Gray

Judge Jon R. Gray was born on November 16, 1951 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Mai H. Gray and Reverend C. Jarrett Gray, Sr. After graduating from Paseo High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969, Gray received his B.A. degree in American Studies from Grinnell College in 1973. He went on to receive his J.D. degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1976.

After graduating from law school, Gray was appointed assistant Jackson County Counselor and established a solo law practice, before joining the firm of Gray Payne & Roque as a principal and partner. He served as a Democratic Attorney for the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners from 1981 to 1986 and as a chair of the Liquor Control Board of Review of Kansas City, Missouri. In 1986, Governor John Ashcroft appointed him circuit judge in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri. He served a term as the Administrative Judge of the Family Court of Jackson County and as a special judge of the Missouri Supreme Court. He also taught at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Emory University School of Law, and the Missouri Judicial College. In 2007, Gray retired from the circuit court and joined Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP as a partner in its Kansas City office, where he served as chair of the firm’s Professional Development Committee.

Gray served on the board of trustees of Southern Methodist University from 1988 until 2000. In 2007, he served a one year term as chair of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association; and, in 2008, he joined the American Arbitration Association as a member of its panel of commercial arbitrators. Governor Jay Nixon appointed Gray to serve as a member of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority in 2009, and as a member of the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials in 2014. An active member of The United Methodist Church, Gray was elected to serve an eight year term as a member of its Judicial Council, and as a delegate to its General Conferences in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. Judge Gray holds membership in The Missouri Bar, the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Jackson County Bar Association, the Association of Missouri Mediators, and the FINRA panel of arbitrators. He is admitted to practice before the Missouri Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Gray received the Difference Maker Award from the Urban League of Greater Kansas City in 2002, the Lewis W. Clymer Award from the Jackson County Bar in 2007, and the Spurgeon Smithson Award from the Missouri Bar Association in 2014. In 2018, he was honored with the Missouri Legal Icon Award from Missouri Lawyers Publications and the Raymond Pace Alexander Award from the National Bar Judicial Council.

The Honorable Jon R. Gray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.122

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/6/2019

Last Name

Gray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Reginald

Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Elem. Magnet

Park Elementary School

Northeast Junior High School

Paseo High School

Grinnell College

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Wendell Phillips Elementary Magnet

First Name

Jon

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

GRA19

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Do All The Good You Can, In All The Ways That You Can, For All The People That You Can, In All The Places That You Can, As Long As Ever You Can - John Wesley

Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

11/16/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Desserts, Barbecue, and Vegetables

Short Description

Judge Jon R. Gray (1951- ) served as circuit judge in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri from 1986 to 2007.

Employment

Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri

Gray Payne & Roque

Favorite Color

Blue

Maurice Watson

Lawyer Maurice Watson was born on January 13, 1958 in Kansas City, Missouri to Christene and George Watson. He attended Barstow School and was the first African American to graduate from there in 1976. Watson then attended Harvard University where he graduated cum laude and received his B.A. degree in social studies in 1980 before earning his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1984.

After graduating from Harvard University in 1980, Watson worked in the legal department at Hallmark Cards, Inc. until 1981 when he entered Harvard Law School. Upon receiving his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1984, Watson was hired as an aide for Senator John Danforth (R-MO) where he worked with civil rights, healthcare, and education issues. He remained here until 1987 when he returned to Kansas City, Missouri to serve as an associate at Blackwell Sanders, working on civil rights and education issues. Here, he would later become partner and relationship manager for the Kansas City Public School system. In 2012, Watson was named chairman of the board of Husch Blackwell, making him the first African American to head a major law firm in Missouri and the third to do so in the country. He remained as chairman until 2018 when he co-founded Credo Philanthropy Advisors and became of counsel to Husch Blackwell.

Watson has served on numerous boards throughout his career, including as president of the board of trustees for Barstow School from 1989 to 1996, chairman of the board of directors for Children’s Mercy Hospital from 1993 to 2007 and vice chair of ther board of trustees from 2002 to 2007, and secretary of the board of trustees for the National Association of Independent Schools from 1995 to 2003. He has also been a member of the African American Managing Partners Network, the Jackson County Bar Association, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Watson also received numerous awards, including the 2007 Missouri Hospital Association Excellence in Governance Award, the NAACP Kansas City, Missouri Chapter’s Velma E. Woodson Outstanding Leadership Award in 2012, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City Difference Maker of the Year Award in 2012, Kansas City Business Journal’s Power 100 recognition from 2014 to 2017, the Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 2018 Law Firm Leader Award, and the African American Managing Partners Network’s 2018 Managing Partner of the Year Award.

Watson resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

Maurice Watson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 4, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.120

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/4/2019

Last Name

Watson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Alvin

Occupation
Schools

George Washington Carver School

George Melcher Elementary School

Southwest High School

The Barstow School

Harvard University

Harvard Law School

First Name

Maurice

HM ID

WAT21

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

London

Favorite Quote

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

1/13/1958

Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Lawyer Maurice Watson (1958- ) was the first African American to head a major law firm in Missouri and the third to do so in the country after being named chairman of Husch Blackwell in 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Employment

Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Blackwell Sanders Matheny Weary & Lombardi

Lord Lloyd & Bissell

Senator John Danforth (R-MO)

Blackwell Sanders

Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP

Husch Blackwell

Credo Philanthropy Advisors

Favorite Color

Purple