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Willis Jackson Ray

Mr. W.J. Ray of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, with his 37 inch long parsnip. Photo by John Edward Schrock, courtesy of Janet (Schrock) Hubbard.
Mr. W.J. Ray of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas,
with his 37 inch long parsnip.
Photo by John Edward Schrock,
courtesy of Janet (Schrock) Hubbard.


The Wilmore News, October 11, 1940.

Services For W. J. Ray

Funeral services for W. J. Ray who passed away in Wichita Saturday were conducted at the Baptist Church in Wilmore at 2 o'clock Monday afternoon. Rev. J. P. Woods of Sun City, pastor of the church here while Mr. Ray was a resident of this place, assisted by Rev. Pittman, was in charge of the services and brought a splendid message. The entire service was carried out as requested by the deceased. He selected the scripture reading, the text which was Revelations 21 and John 14, 1-3, and the songs were, "Sweet Hour of Prayer," Sweet Bye and Bye" and "Rock of Ages" which were rendered by a quartet composed of Valtos and Royce Richardson, Joe Woods, and Roderick Baker, Mrs. Lauren Ridge served as accompanist.

Honorary pall bearers were T. C. Pepperd, T. J. Foree, Perry Wall, Lester Larimer, Alvah York and L. E. Baker.

Active were, five sons, Walter of Ashland, Charles and Emery of Wichita, Willie of San Antonio and Silas of Enid, Okla., and a son-in-law Clarence Eaton of Garden City. Mr. Ray was known and loved by the people of Wilmore and vicinity where he resided for a number of years. He was a wonderful man.

Interment was made in the Coldwater cemetery.

Obituary: Willis Jackson Ray,

1853 - 1940

Willis Jackson Ray was born December 26, 1853, on a farm near Berwick County, Illinois, the son of Greenbury B. Ray and Mary A. Moore Ray. He died at the home of Mrs. Mabel Ray, 415 South Elizabeth, Wichita, Kansas, at 10:55 A.M. Saturday, October 5, 1940, aged 86 years, nine months and five days.

Born and reared on a farm he chose farming and livestock raising as his vocation through life, beginning with his father on their Illinois farm. On September 20, 1877, he was united in marriage to Miss Louisa Catherine LaMunyon of Taylor county, Iowa, and they took up their first residence on the Ray homestead in Illinois in the house where he had been born 24 years before. To this union two sons were born Walter C. and Chester. Chester died March 5, 1881 at the age of three months and 10 days. Louisa died November 28, 1880.

June 30, 1881, he was united in marriage to Miss Marguerete Alverna Emery at Clearfield, Iowa. To this union seven sons and three daughters were born. Gracie died at the age of three years and their oldest son, Estel at the age of 47, Alverna passed away at their ranch home near Wilmore February 1, 1913.

On May 2, 1914 he was married to Miss Lydia Rowena Griggs of Kansas City. She passed away at their home in Wilmore, February 26, 1931.

The deceased is survived by two daughters, Mary E. Wilmore, National City, California, and Emma Eaton of Garden City, Kansas, seven sons, Walter C. of Ashland, Kansas; Charles G. of 1218 North Market, Wichita, Kansas; Emery R. 140 North Rutan, Wichita, Kansas; Willis J. 727 Topeka Blvd., San Antonio, Texas; Paul G. Lutkin, Texas; Silas Ray 1005 East Broadway, Enid, Okla.; and Arthur of Wilmore, Kansas; and Estel's widow, Mrs. Mabel Ray of 415 Elizabeth, Wichita, Kans.; 35 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, and a host of neighbors and friends who will ever cherish him in loving memory.

He was an ideal christian father who truly brought up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, a neighbor ever willing to be helpful to others, and a citizen who was always ready to carry his share of the community's responsibilities and burdens.

Willis Ray was one of those indomitable spirits who moved westward with the tide of emigration. He left his farm in Illinois in the early eighties and moved to Taylor County, Iowa, where he bought a farm and resided until the fall of 1884 when he ventured farther west and bought land in Pawnee County, Nebraska, where he continued to farm and produce livestock until 1894 when he sold his Nebraska holdings and moved south to Linn County, Kansas, where he bought a finely improved farm near LaCygne. After eleven years of successful operation there. In 1906 he again moved west - this time settling in Comanche County, Kansas where he bought what was known as the Davis Ranch located about four miles northwest of Wilmore. Here he and his family resided until 1914, when he retired from active ranching and moved to Wilmore, where he made his home until about six years ago. Since then he has made his home with his children and grandchildren in Pratt, Hutchinson and Wichita.

Father Ray was a leader among his people wherever he went, both in material and spiritual matters. His religious life was a real and vital force to him. At an early age he was converted and identified himself with the Missionary Baptist Church. He had been an active deacon, in that denomination for over sixty years. For over forty years, almost without interruption he was a Sunday School Superintendent. It seemed a part of his mission in life to have an active part in establishing Baptist churches. In Taylor County, Iowa he was one of the group that established the Clearfield Baptist Church. When he moved to the Nebraska prairies there was no church nearby, so he joined with others in establishing a church at Lewiston, Nebr. That being out of his immediate neighborhood, as the country settled up, he felt the need and organized a Sunday School house in the district in which he resided. This Sunday School grew into the Tate Baptist Church which developed into one of the important rural churches of Nebraska and a fine country church building was built on a hill less than a mile from his farm home. Moving to LaCygne another congregation was gathered and another Baptist Church building was erected.

Many in the congregation who have gathered here in Wilmore today to pay their last respects, know of his part in the organization of the Wilmore Baptist Church in 1906, and its development in the years that followed and how many have been brought into the Kingdom and trained for Christian service. For many years he was a member of the executive board of the Kansas Baptist State Convention. It was very seldom that he became too busy with the material things of life not to answer and attend promptly to the calls of his Master for service.

He was a member of the A. F. & A. M. Lodge of Wilmore, and had been a member of the Modern Woodman.

The writer of this sketch is convinced that father Ray could well have said with Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course. I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all that also love His appearing." The children can say as was said of Barnabas, "He was a good man."

Card of Thanks

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to friends for the beautiful expressions of sympathy extended to us at the death of our Father. We are especially grateful to the people of the Wilmore community for their loving kindness and hospitality. We would also express our appreciation of the many floral offerings.

The Ray Family


The picture above is of the Men's Bible Class in 1931. Sam Lawrence was the teacher of the class. 

The gentlemen are (from left to right): Lew Kluttz, Perry Wall, Perry Barber, Bruce Snare, Jeff Foree, Van Lott, Lawrence York, L.B. 'Daddy' Sommers, John Manahan, Sam Lawrence, Oscar Pinkston, Grandfather Ray, Tom Pepperd, Shurd Smith, Lester Larimer. 

Photo courtesy of David Lawrence.

Wilmore Baptist Church Men's Bible Class in 1931. Sam Lawrence was the teacher of the class. The gentlemen are (from left to right): Lew Kluttz (had an auto agency), Perry Wall (hardware store owner & rancher), Perry Barber, Bruce Snare, Jeff Foree, Van Lott (owned grocery store), Lawrence York (rancher), L.B. "Daddy" Sommers, John Manahan (school superintendent), Sam Lawrence, Oscar Pinkston, Willis Jackson Ray, Tom Pepperd (had gas delivery truck & farmed), Shurd Smith (railroad section man), Lester Larimer (Sunday School superintendent & farmer). Photo courtesy of David Lawrence.


Also see:

Estel Oliver Ray, son of Willis Jackson Ray.

Estel Willis Ray, son of Estel Oliver Ray, grandson of Willis Jackson Ray.

Margueritte Alverna (Emery) Ray, 2nd wife of Willis J. Ray.

Lydia Roena (Griggs) Ray, 3rd wife of Willis J. Ray.

Arthur Thomas Wilmore, first son of Tommy & Mattie Wilmore, husband of Mary Emeline Ray, son-in-law of Willis Jackson Ray.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for transcribing and contributing the above obituary!

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This page was created 24 September 2006.