Donor Story

AWF Remembers Canadian Businessperson and Philanthropic Supporter, Gordon C. Gray

Gordon C. Gray, visionary Canadian businessperson, passed away at age 96 on May 19 in Toronto, Canada. Gray was best known for his leadership in the commercial real estate business. It was his imagination that developed the Toronto skyline from a relatively flat landscape to its current array of skyscrapers that define the city as the epicenter of the Canadian financial sector. He was also a passionate advocate for animals and conservation, funding the expansion of AWF's global mission to ensure wildlife and wildlands thrive in modern Africa by establishing AWF's Canadian office and generously supporting AWF conservation efforts through The Gordon and Patricia Gray Animal Welfare Foundation. 

Gray was a visionary, early advocate of AWF's groundbreaking work with the Rwandan government, which is focused on increasing space for gorilla habitat while improving the standard of living for communities near Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. As part of this effort, he championed AWF's rights-based approach requiring Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from communities impacted by the conservation plan. His drive and curiosity were extraordinary.  “At 93, he was carried on a stretcher up the side of the Virunga Mountains to see mountain gorillas and I will never forget the smile on his face,” remembers Craig Sholley, AWF SVP and Special Advisor. 

Gray also enabled AWF to provide the government of Botswana with resources to combat wildlife trafficking through the establishment of a canine detection unit that has been instrumental in detecting pangolin scales, ivory, and other trafficked wildlife products at roadside checkpoints across the country. We gratefully recognize and are thankful for Gordon C. Gray's contributions to African conservation and the generosity of the Gray family, including the commitment of his son, AWF Global Trustee and past AWF Canada Board Member, Donald Gray.