Ray, more than just a mayor

Published 10:36 pm Friday, September 4, 2009

The city of Troy lost a valuable asset to the community Thursday.

Former Mayor James E. Ray, 86, died in his home Sept. 3.

Ray served three terms as mayor from 1963 to 1975, while he was on the city commission.

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“He was really valuable to the city and our community,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

He also was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 1979 to 1984, and was inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame in 1999.

Ray was also instrumental in starting Bush Memorial Baptist Church and served as a deacon.

Bush Memorial Baptist Church College Minister Ellis Bush, who is the officiant for Ray’s funeral service, which will take place Sunday at 4 p.m. at the church, said Ray was one of the founding members of the church.

“The activities building is named in his honor. It’s the James and Annie Valeria Ray Activities Center,” Bush said.

Not only was Ray a valuable asset to the Troy community, he was active in the church.

“James was always there, always a part,” Bush said. “If we needed a preacher he would preach.”

Ray was active in his Christian faith.

“James was a wonderful Christian man. One of those people that was never embarrassed or ashamed that he believed in Jesus,” Bush said. “His whole life was about living for Jesus. He was a testimony of a man who loved the lord.”

Bush said Ray had a positive outlook on life.

“He found a way to be positive about anything,” Bush said. “That’s just absolutely the kind of man he was. He had a kind of wholesome respect. Race was never a problem. Poverty was never a problem for. It didn’t make a difference.”

Ray served in the U.S. Army during World War II and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He also received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

“He did training to be an officer, but they didn’t need officers when he got finished,” Bush said. “He went back to being a private. He was one of those men Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”

Ray enjoyed the outdoors.

“He had a broad range of interests and could have lived anywhere he wanted,” Bush said. “He grew up in simple circumstances. That’s the kind of lifestyle he was committed to the outdoors. He loved to garden.”

He attended Troy State University and graduated from Auburn University in 1947, where he received a degree in Civil Engineering and later taught engineering drawing at TSU for 31 years.

Ray served on the Samuel Ginn Engineering Council at Auburn, the board of directors at the Colley Senior Complex, the board of directors of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Association, The Governor’s Industrial Advisory Committee, the board of directors of the Edge Memorial Hospital, a life member of the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors, the state board of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the board of the Alabama Neonatal Commission.

He is survived by his wife of 64 Annie Valeria, children James E. “Jim” Jr., and Judy Ray Colley, and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Lunsford is asking that all flags in the city of Troy be flown at half-staff from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, in memory of the former mayor.