Willie E. Gary

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The Pioneer Award

Attorney Willie E. Gary is living the American Dream. Once a migrant worker, now a multi-millionaire attorney and cable television executive, Gary earned his reputation as "The Giant Killer" by taking down some of America's most well known corporate giants on behalf of his clients. He has won some of the largest jury awards and settlements in U.S. history, including more than 150 cases in excess of $1 million each.

Gary's amazing success has earned him national recognition as a leading trial attorney. In May 2002, he was featured in Ebony magazine as one of the :100 Most Influential Black Americans." Forbes magazine has listed him as one of the "Top 50 attorneys in the U.S."He has also been featured by many of this nation's most respected media publications including, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Ebony, Jet People, Black Enterprise, Fortune, The New Yorker and The National Law Journal.

His tireless work on behalf of his clients has been well documented on news programs, such as CBS's "60 Minutes," the "CBS Evening News," and ABC's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." He has been profiled on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," and made guess appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." And CBS's "The Early Show" with Bryant Gumbel.

But Willie Gary's triumphant rise to the top is no overnight success story. His vast appeal stems for his desire to be the best and passionate work ethic learned through his humble beginnings. One of 11 children of Turner and Mary Gray, Willie Gary was born July 12, 1947 in Eastman, GA. And raised in migrant farm communities in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. His unwavering desire to earn a college education ultimately led him to Shaw University in Raleigh; N.C. where the all-state high school football player would earn an athletic scholarship after first being told there was no room for him on the team. Gary went on to become the co-caption of Shaw's football team from 1969 to 1971. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Gary went on to North Carolina Central University where he earned a Juris Doctorate in 1974. Gary then returned home to Florida with his childhood sweetheart, Gloria, who was not his wife.

He was admitted to the Florida Bar and opened the first African-American law firm in Martin County with the help of Gloria, who worked during the day and spent her nights helping at the law office. Gary's practice has since grown into the thriving national partnership know as Gray, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson & Sperando, consisting of 36 attorneys, a team of paralegals, and a professional staff of 100 ' including six nurses, two investigators, an administrator, a certified public accountant, a public relations department, a general counsel. a human resources director and a full administrative staff. The firm operates out of three posh waterfront offices ' two are located on the St. Lucie River in historic downtown Stuart and the third oversees the Indian River Lagoon in Fort Pierce.