ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla., July 6 (UPI) -- Former Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray III died Wednesday in Atlantic Beach, Fla, of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 88.
Gray was appointed deputy attorney general by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and his tenure was characterized by the Watergate scandal.
"I came to this town with my integrity intact and I intend to leave the same way," Gray said in asking that his name be withdrawn from nomination as J. Edgar Hoover's successor as FBI director. That was on April 5, 1973.
When he resigned as acting director, he declared it was not to preserve his own integrity, but the "reputation, the integrity and the effectiveness" of the FBI.
Gray left amid rumors that President Nixon was asking him to do so and in the wake of revelations he had destroyed politically embarrassing files that belonged to Watergate mastermind E. Howard Hunt Jr. The New York Times, in an obituary Wednesday, said Gray was ordered to destroy the files by the president.
During his nearly one year as head of the FBI, Gray was both reviled for his loyalty to Nixon and applauded for the changes he made in the bureau.
In recent weeks, he said he was appalled to learn his deputy, Mark Felt, had been Deep Throat, who provided Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein much of their information on the Watergate break-in and cover-up.
Gray, a lawyer and career Naval office, had been named deputy attorney general after serving two years as head of the Justice Department's civil division, but Hoover died before the Senate had time to act on that nomination and Gray took charge of the agency.