Obituary of Robert Ray
Cullowhee - Dr. Robert G. Ray "Bob" died on Monday, August 14, 2017, at the age of 84. He was a basketball all-star during the 1950s at Western Carolina University, distinguished educator, recognized environmental advocate, and public servant.
Dr. Ray was born on December 20, 1932 in Barnardsville, NC the youngest son of Clifford S. and Vannie Allen Ray. Excelling at basketball through high school, he played on the WCU team from 1952-1954 before serving in the military for two years in the Army Special Forces, receiving the first issue of the Green Beret. He then returned to WCU graduating in 1957 with a degree in education and amassing over 1100 points in his basketball career, still 22nd on the all-time scorers list, without the advantage of the three-point shot. In 1959, he married Susie Roberts, from Asheville NC. As an assistant coach for the WCU men's basketball team he developed several All-America players including Henry Logan. Bob earned his Master's Degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his doctorate at the University of Georgia. He returned to WCU as a professor and ultimately was Chair of the Health and Physical Education Department for 11 years before his retirement. Dr. Ray was inducted into the WCU Athletic Hall of Fame recognizing his lifelong contributions to athletics at the university as a player, coach and professor. Bob was an avid fisherman, staunch environmental advocate and devoted Catamount. In his retirement years, he was active in roles at both the state and local level including service on the NC Department of Natural Resources Environmental Management Commission and as chairman of the Jackson County Board of Elections. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Susie Ray; his children Kimberly Ray (Jeff) and Kelly Schwenk (Brian) both from Atlanta GA; and his granddaughter Olivia Reed (Dwayne), Cherokee NC. A memorial service for Bob will be held on August 26th at 2:00pm at Cullowhee United Methodist Church where Bob has been a member for more than 50 years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Robert G. Ray athletic scholarship at WCU or to the Cullowhee Methodist Church debt fund. For the scholarship fund, memorial gifts can be made online at makeagift.wcu.edu or mailed to WCU Foundation, 201 HF Robinson, 1 University Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723 (checks payable to WCU Foundation). The church address is P.O. Box 1267, Cullowhee, NC 28723
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