Ralph Woodard Ray departed this life to be with his Lord and Savior on March 4th, 2018. He is now rejoined with loved ones; he no longer suffers the fog that Alzheimer’s created late in his life; he now knows everything completely. We rejoice in his ascension!
He began his long life journey in the rural countryside near McCool, Mississippi on October 15, 1927 to parents William Earl and Caudie Jane (née Quarles) Ray. He is best known as an honored and dedicated educator, teaching over 40 years all in Chipley; 15 years at Chipley High School (1952-1967) and 25 years at the Washington-Holmes Vocation Technical Center (1967-1992). He now exists in the collective memories of his beloved students and loved ones. He lived a full and rewarding life.
After his 11th grade year at Weir High School, Ralph decided to join the Navy as his Army-drafted brothers had wisely recommended. He finished Basic Training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and was stationed at Agana Naval Station, Guam. After the War, he came back to finish his 12th grade year, and used the GI Bill to attend Bowling Green Business University, graduating in 1952. He interviewed with/was hired by Principal Colly V. Williams for the teaching position at Chipley High School in 1952. He married Marlene Jordan, a nurse he met upon the suggestion of the late Virginia Bowers, in 1960. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree from Florida State University. He always considered Teaching to be a “calling” of the highest order.
Ralph’s “hobby” was helping people. Be it a student having trouble learning shorthand, a neighbor needing a tree cut down after a hurricane, visiting the homebound parent of a friend or taking an elderly person from the nursing home to get a cup of coffee and some fresh air; Ralph Ray was a man who made it his daily purpose to serve the common good. He never expected praise nor sought notoriety. He volunteered his leadership in Lions Club for over 40 years; he worshipped, and served tirelessly in the Chipley First United Methodist Church.
In his last five years, he would be gradually robbed of so much of his treasured memories and interpersonal relationships by Alzheimer’s; he suffered in silence as the world passed him by.
He is preceded in death by his parents, three brothers; Quarles, Woodie, and Jimmy Ray and two sisters; Clytee Hunt and Edna Fryery.
Ralph is survived by his wife of over 57 years, and the love of his life; Marlene Ray, his two sons; Kyle Ray and wife Miriam, and Danny Ray and wife Jenny, his daughter; Nelda Ray-Smith, husband Bruce and their children Heather Dow and Kristen Smith, one sister-in-law; Rose Ray, 4 grandchildren; Geoffrey Ray and wife Whitney, Andrew Ray, Logan Ray, and Jake Ray, one very special friend; Loretta Smith, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be held 11:00A.M., Thursday, March 8, 2018 at First United Methodist Church with the Doctor Trish Bruner officiating. Interment will follow in the Glenwood Cemetery. Visitation will be held 5:00 to 7:00P.M., Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Brown Funeral Home Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Florida Panhandle Technical College, 757 Hoyt St, Chipley, FL 32428 (http://www.fptc.edu) or Alzheimer’s Disease Research (https://www.brightfocus.org/research/alzheimers-disease-research-program).