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Ellison Capers ‘E.C.’ Grayson, Jr.

Ellison Capers “E.C.” Grayson, passed away peacefully and faithfully on January 13, 2024, in La Quinta, CA.


E.C. was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 7th, 1928, son of Ellison Capers Grayson Sr. and Inez Santos Grayson, and brother of Richard A. Grayson, Esq. E.C. will always be remembered for his big smile, boundless energy, eternal optimism, devotion to duty, honor, country, and his deep love of family and friends. E.C. loved the magic of relationships, knew everyone, and delighted in connecting them.


E.C. was raised in St. Paul and was a student leader and athlete. He was an Eagle Scout, president of Central High School, a lifeguard, and a varsity football player. At the University of Minnesota, E.C. was president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Interfraternity Council. He loved his summers on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina, where his family had a long history. E.C. was an athlete his entire life, still swimming at 95. He loved tennis, downhill skiing, running, rowing on the bay, and playing water polo on the Olympic Club team. As a member of the St. Francis and Corinthian Yacht Clubs, he loved racing around the San Francisco Bay on “The Darby” to the delight of his granddaughters and their friends.


After graduation, E.C. joined the U.S. Navy as an officer during the Korean War. From his ship, he witnessed a nuclear detonation test off the Bikini Atoll. His active duty took him across the Pacific and ultimately to San Francisco, where he met the love of his life, Jean Amy Mason. She was a flight attendant for United Airlines and for President Dwight Eisenhower during his presidential campaign. E.C. and Jean were engaged in Honolulu and married on Treasure Island Naval Base on December 26th, 1953. They spent their honeymoon driving through Europe for three months and returned home to San Francisco aboard the QE II.


Thereafter, E.C. had a successful career as an insurance industry CEO. He was very active in civic affairs, including as president of St. Mary’s Hospital and The Navy League, a regent at St. Ignatius College Prep, commanding officer of a Naval Intelligence Reserve unit and an advisor to Mayors George Moscone and Dianne Feinstein and Governor Pete Wilson.


In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed E.C. as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He received numerous awards, including the Navy’s Distinguished Civilian Service medal. After serving in the Pentagon, E.C. returned to San Francisco and joined Spencer Stuart, becoming one of the country’s top “headhunters” of Fortune 500 CEO’s, CFO’s, and board members. In later years, E.C. joined the Grayson Group as senior advisor and loving mentor to its founder, Laurie Grayson.


E.C. especially loved The Bohemian Club and Grove. He was a true Bohemian in spirit and deed. He also greatly enjoyed the Alfalfa Club, the Knights of Malta, the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C., and serving on The Guardsmen board. He was a member of The Springs Country Club in Rancho Mirage and a devout parishioner of St. Hilary Church in Tiburon.


E.C. is survived by his wife of seventy years, Jean Mason Grayson; his children Darby Grayson Sutherland (Bruce) and William Ellison “Bill” Grayson (Laurie); and his four granddaughters, Katherine (Washington, D.C.), Elizabeth and Caroline Grayson (Manhattan), and Lauren Gordon (Austin, Texas). He is also survived by Shadow, his beloved standard poodle. E.C.’s zest for life, service to his country, devotion to his family, and love of his friends will continue to live on in all of us.



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