Oakley Ray
Oakley Ray
Oakley Ray

Obituary of Oakley J. Ray

God, Family and Country were the personal touchstones throughout the remarkable life of Oakley J Ray. Oakley passed away peacefully at the age of 101 on June 12, 2022 surrounded by his family. He was preceded in his death by his wife, Janet Andersen Ray, and three daughters: Judianne, Linda and Lana (Viehweg), as well as his parents, Sims Flood Ray and Nellie Ellsworth Ray, and brothers Ellsworth, Gerald, Norman, Albert and sister Myrle. He is survived by his sister Maxine Steiner and nine living children: Beverly (Walker), Carol (Soelberg), Joyce (Clifton), Sharon (Snyder), Delwyn Ray, Norene (Bean), Stan Ray, Judene (Spiel) and Launette (Shaw). Oakley's life was all about family. He was unfailingly, and often unfathomably, generous with both his means and his time. His sole hobby was his family, and if an activity didn't involve seeing, serving, or supporting family members, it didn't interest him. "Personal" was a word not included in the Oakley J Ray lexicon. He was a selfless man, with an enormous servant's heart -- a heart willing to reach out in love and service to his large posterity, with no regard whatsoever for personal inconvenience. For as long as he was physically able, he loved to help with their myriad projects, including building and remodeling many of their homes. The vision of Oakley hovering over a power tool covered in sawdust is one cherished by numerous family members. Oakley was born on July 27, 1920 in Chandler, Arizona, the second child of his family. He grew up in an Arizona very different from the one known now: irrigated farming was the way of life, air conditioning was virtually non-existent, the Model-T was eight years old, the Valley was dotted with small towns connected by unpaved roads, life was simple, and families were generally poor but close. Oakley's parents had a small alfalfa and cotton farm, and 15-20 cows producing milk sold to a Tempe creamery. A move to Mesa just before the Great Depression necessitated another family move to Wickenburg, Arizona where Sims could find work on road projects during those lean years. Wickenburg changed the trajectory of Oakley's life. It was there, while in Junior High, he fell in love with and excelled in the sport of basketball. Upon returning to Mesa a few years later, Oakley became a star player for Mesa High, playing on the state championship team in his Sophomore year. His talent earned Oakley a four-year basketball scholarship to Arizona Teacher's College - which later became Arizona State University. Setting his scholarship aside, Oakley served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Sept 1940 to August 1942 in the Central States Mission, where he was stunned by news of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 precipitating US entry into World War II. Upon his release as a missionary, he immediately went to the Navy recruiter in the Valley and signed up for the officer corps. The Navy then placed him on inactive duty for a year, which allowed him to continue playing basketball for ASTC. This is when he met the sweetheart of his life, Janet Andersen, in March, 1943. Marriage vows had to wait, however, until May,1944 after Oakley completed his officer's training at NAU as well as Harvard. During WWII he served as a disbursing officer aboard the USS Estes, the admiral's flagship of the Pacific Amphibious Fleet. He was an eyewitness to some of the toughest battles fought in the Pacific theater of duty including Okinawa as well as Iwo Jima, where he watched through his binoculars as the Stars and Stripes were placed atop Mount Suribachi by victorious US Marines. After the war, Oakley received a law degree from the University of Arizona, and also became a licensed CPA. He practiced law for a short time, and then launched a home construction company, Ray Quality Homes, in 1954 with the motto "A House for Your Lot." His company built homes all over the state. He retired from his business in 1987. In addition to their twelve children, Oakley and Janet have eighty-eight grandchildren, and 340 great grandchildren. Two daughters died at a very young age, and their other children all graduated from college and were sealed to their spouses in the Mesa, Arizona temple. While raising his family and running his construction firm, Oakley always placed God first, being very active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serving in many capacities including Bishop's Counselor and Bishop of the Mesa First Ward. Upon reflection later in life, he stated his greatest joy serving in the church was being a Scoutmaster, where he was beloved by the young men whose lives he touched. He also found great joy serving five missions in England, Nigeria, Florida, Texas and Martin's Cove, Wyoming where both Oakley and Janet were able to spend undivided time serving the Lord, and their fellow men. For some, service is a sacrifice. For Oakley, service was a pleasure, and a way of life that has become his legacy to us all. Public visitation will be held Thursday, June 23, 6-8 p.m. 933 E Brown Road Mesa, Arizona. Funeral services will be held at the same location on Saturday, June 25, 2022, 11:00 a.m. On YouTube, search for "Oakley Ray Funeral" it will be live at 11:00 AM. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXfw83VkT1c Cemetery Details City of Mesa Cemetery 1212 N. Center St. Mesa, AZ 85201 Loading map Previous Events Visitation JUN 23. 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (MT) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 933 East Brown Road Mesa, AZ 85203 Loading map Funeral Service JUN 25. 11:00 AM (MT) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 933 East Brown Road Mesa, AZ 85203 Loading map
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