Jose Ray Chavez, best known as “Coach Ray” passed in peace on Thursday, March 12th at the age of 79. Preceded in death by his wife, Esther Chavez, Ray will be lovingly remembered by his three sons, Ray (Connie), Mark (Donna), and Dennis (Sherri). He will also be remembered by his seven grandchildren, Ray (Jennifer), Connie, Christopher (Gabrielle), Megan, Madalyn, Reid (Amanda), and Blake, by his five great grandchildren, Kameryn, Asanya, Kailah, Kadence, Evan. Ray was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Upon graduating from high school, he joined the United States Air Force. In 1978 he was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. Like many others he and his family feel in love with the area and decided to make Valparaiso, FL their permanent home. Ray retired from active duty in 1984 but continued a second career working with the Civil Service for an additional 11 years. Ray loved the community in which he lived. He was most passionate about giving back and generously gave his time to various organizations. Some of the organizations include the Big Brother program, Hispanic Youth Charities, Special Olympics, Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, Pony League Baseball, High School JV & Varsity Baseball (Niceville High School & Choctawhatchee High School), Eglin Squadron Softball League, All Military Softball Team, Travel Baseball Leagues. Coach Ray taught numerous athletes skills, etiquette, sportsmanship, values, teamwork, and perseverance. He believed in every player in his line-up...from top to bottom each player has a value to the team and an important role to play. As a player – everyone knows the value of having a coach that believes in you...it empowers you as a player/person - it builds you up to accomplish things you may not otherwise be able to accomplish. If you ask him - he will tell you ‘he learned more from the players than he ever taught’. Ray’s passion for baseball was equally matched by his passion for the game of golf. At the young age of 17 this passion was sparked as he caddied for the great Lee Trevino. No doubt his first full day in heaven included an early T-time and a full round of 18 holes. He cherished the friendships cultivated on the golf course. When he became too weak to play the greatest loss was spending time with his buddies. His golf game can be summed up by this quote, “You don’t know what pressure is until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket.” – Lee Trevino. It’s safe to say, most of the time he won! Later in life Ray found great peace and comfort as a member of the First United Methodist Church in Ft. Walton. He approached his relationship with God in the same way he pursued excellence in sports. He applied the philosophy ‘that you play how your practice’. Therefore, he spent time studying the word, seeking understanding, and volunteering with the Homeless Outreach Ministry. He greatly appreciated the love and prayers of his church family. Although we would prefer to celebrate our beloved “Coach” with a service reflective of his generosity and caring heart, we are sensitive to the precautions necessary as a result of the COVID-19. Therefore, we have decided to have a small Graveside service at Heritage Gardens Cemetery on March 24th at 10:00 a.m. Ray had a giving heart and was passionate about serving the local community through homeless outreach programs and the love of baseball. In lieu of flowers a donation can be made to support the Homeless Ministry of FUMC 103 First St. SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548; Choctaw High School Baseball 110 Racetrack Rd NW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547; or Niceville High School Baseball 800 E John Sims Pkwy Niceville, FL 32578.
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