Retired Colonel Robert Garrett Ray went to meet his Lord and Savior on June 28th, 2021. He was born to modest beginnings in a small farmhouse in Mars Hill NC, September 10th, 1930. He was the seventh of eight children of Avon and Carrie Ray. Growing up in the Great Depression taught him valuable life lessons of hard work, dedication and patriotism. Too young for World War 2 he would finish College, a first for male children of his family via a baseball scholarship at Mars Hill College. Later he would attend master’s teaching classes at Appalachian State Teachers College, now Appalachian University in Boone NC. This is where his life would be forever altered with the meeting of his future wife and life partner of sixty-five years, Betsy June Hughes. Later he would change career desires from teaching to joining the fledgling United States Air Force. He would serve a tour in the Korean War as a crew member in the first radar equipped Jet Fighter, the F94B. He would later serve two more combat tours in Viet Nam as a crew member in the F105G Wild Weasel. Additionally, he was instrumental in the U2 aircraft development at the famed Lockheed “Skunk Works”. During all this he would raise a family of three children, three grandchildren and move to countless locations around the globe and serve his country with honor.
He finally retired in 1980 after nearly 30 years of service. Throughout retirement he stayed active as a civilian flight instructor and aircraft inspector. He enjoyed Bluegrass music, flying and more than anything loved his family. He and Betsy were active members of Crosspoint Church in Niceville Florida.
Colonel Ray was predeceased by his wife, Betsy Hughes Ray, and son Steven Lee Ray, and is survived his children, Robert Ray Jr. (Teena) Elizabeth Yockey (Keith) grandchildren Nicole Munn (Gardner), Lauren Dahlenberg (Josh) and Kaden Ray, great grandchildren Graham and Natalie Munn. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of Colonel Ray to Crosspoint Church, Niceville, FL. A memorial date is TBD.
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