J. Robert Bray completes career at the VPA

By: | at 08:00 PM | Maritime  

J. Robert ‘Bobby’ Bray, the long-time executive director of the Virginia Port Authority said that July 1 will be his last day with the VPA.

The announcement was made public at the regularly scheduled meeting (May 22) of the VPA Board of Commissioners by its chairman, John G. Milliken.

‘He is stepping down on the highest of high notes,’ Milliken said. ‘He guided this port from the early days through its most prosperous years. We were fortunate to have him when, and for as long as we did. All you can say is God bless him.’

In mid-2006 Bray announced that he would retire by the end of 2007 and shortly thereafter the VPA board began searching for his replacement. In November 2006, Jerry A. Bridges, then director of the Port of Oakland, was named as the successor to Bray. Bridges took over as executive director Feb. 5 and Bray became executive director emeritus.

‘I always said I would retire when the time was right. Well, the time is right,’ Bray said. ‘The VPA is in a set of very good, capable hands. The leadership transition went very smoothly and it is complete. I truly believe The Port of Virginia has a very prosperous future ahead of it and I look forward to watching it unfold from a bit of a distance.’

Although Bray has completed his career at the VPA he will continue to serve as an advisor to the coming annual convention of the American Association of Port Authorities scheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, in Norfolk. The convention is a gathering of the largest port-industry trade group in North America.

Bray began his career at the VPA in 1967 as its general counsel and in 1978 he was appointed executive director.

Career Biography

In May 1978, J. Robert ‘Bobby’ Bray was appointed executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, a post he held until July 1, 2007. He began his career at the VPA is 1967 as its general counsel. Prior to that position he served as law clerk to the Virginia Supreme Court and as assistant city attorney for the City of Portsmouth.

When he took over as executive director in 1978, The Port of Virginia handled 231,848 teus in 2006 the port set an all-time record having handled slightly more than 2 million teus.

His industry involvement includes service on the Board of Directors of Virginia International Terminals, Inc. (VIT), Virginia Coal Research Development Advisory Board, South Atlantic and Caribbean Ports Association and the ODU Maritime Advisory Council. He is the past chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

In addition, he serves on Greater Norfolk Corporation Board of Directors, Town Point Club Board of Governors, Hampton Roads Partnership Board of Directors where he also serves as a member of its executive committee and the Board of Trustees of Hampden-Sydney College.

Throughout his 39-year career with the VPA, Bray has been honored several times for his leadership in the industry and his civic involvement:

  • 1990 Hampton Roads Foreign Commerce Club Commerce Builder Award
  • 1992 Inductee, Containerization & Intermodal Institute’s Hall of Fame
  • 1996 Distinguished Service Award from the Hampton Roads Maritime Association ’ Recognized as ‘Mr. Hampton Roads’
  • 1999 Connie Award from the Containerization & Intermodal Institute
  • 1998 Bronze de Fleury Medal ’ the first Congressional medal struck by the district engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, honoring contributions to the Corps
  • 1999 Received the Patrick Henry Award, presented by Hampden-Sydney College for distinguished service to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • 2006v Recognized by Virginia Business magazine as one of the top 20 industry leaders in Virginia who have had a transforming effect on their industry or their regional economy
  • 2006 The VPA was chosen by Containerisation International magazine as the Port Authority of the Year among ports throughout the world. The VPA was the only North American nomine


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