By Tim Jimenez, Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The life of former Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Gray was celebrated Saturday at a memorial service at Bright Hope Baptist Church.
It took place at 11 a.m., at the North Philadelphia church where he was a pastor.
The former congressman, pastor and leader of the United Negro College Fund was said to be a man who worked with a smile on his face and music in his heart.
President Bill Clinton was among the many dignitaries who attended.
“This is a life to celebrate. This is a man who made history,” said the former President.
Clinton told the full crowd at Bright Hope that Gray was first African American to Chair the House Budget Committee and had the capital to become the first Black speaker of the House.
“He respected people who disagreed with him and he turned into the conflict and reached out to them. Something we need to do today,” he said.
Mayor Michael Nutter and second district Congressman Chakah Fattah attended the service.
Gray served in Congress 1979 to 1991. He made history by becoming the first African-American chair of the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as majority whip.
He died on July 1st of natural causes while in London for the Wimbledon tennis tournament. He was 71-years-old.