Nellie Gray speaks at the “Bring America Back to Life” rally marking Joe Scheidler’s NOW v. Scheidler Supreme Court victory in 2003
“No Exceptions! No compromises!”
That was Nellie Gray’s mantra. And she meant it.
Whenever she spoke her “No exceptions” position, the crowd would roar. That was pure Nellie.
We have just received word that Nellie is dead at the age of 88. She died alone, which is so sad, because Nellie was a gatherer of crowds.
As head of March for Life she gathered hundreds of thousands of people from all across the country and foreign lands year after year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
She was surrounded by friends at her Rose Dinners. She was a pro-life leader admired and loved by millions. And she must have been greatly loved by God whom she served in saving His most helpless creatures, the unborn.
Nellie was a great friend. I first met her just about the time she began the March for Life in 1974. We were both veterans of World War II (not World War I, as some probably thought), with Nellie having served as a corporal in the Women’s Army Corps. I used to call her “Sergeant,” and she liked that.
I phoned Nellie a lot, and she always answered her own phone at the March for Life office. So many people loved Nellie and her curly dark hair and classical features and great sense of humor, and they will miss her determination, and her confidence that America will change and return to a greater respect for all human life.
The great work Nellie did is already bearing fruit. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forever changed by attending one of her marches.
For busloads of young people these marches were their entrance into pro-life activism. Only God knows all the good she did, and for that good Nellie has become a saint for our troubled times.
It doesn’t seem right that Nellie will miss the 40th anniversary of the obscene Roe v. Wade abortion decision this January. But perhaps God decided Nellie had done enough, and He wanted her to be with Him after all her years of labor.