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Willie J. Gray, a local pioneering African-American KFC franchisee, dies

Willie J. Gray, a local pioneering African-American KFC franchisee, dies

Willie J. Gray, a Baltimore businessman who became a pioneering minority franchise owner for Kentucky Fried Chicken, died June 19 of a cardiac arrest at Lehigh Valley-Muhlenberg Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Govans resident was 76.

Geneva Thomas, a West Baltimore resident and fellow KFC franchisee, recalled Mr. Gray as a “fine businessman” and a “very nice man who was friendly and kind.”

“Willie trained and mentored a lot of people in the business because he wanted to help people,” she said. “That was his world.”

Willie James Gray was the son of Robert Carr Gray and Nancy Murray. He was born in Burke County, Ga., and raised in...

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