Clara “Mae” (Willis) Ray, 88, passed from this life December 3, 2018. Mae was born to Henry and Lucille Black August 14, 1930. Mae had five siblings: June, Henry (Junior), Jean, Marie, and Forrest Lee. When Forrest was born their mother died in childbirth. Their father Henry was unable to take care of the children and made the decision to place them in good homes. June, the oldest, was placed with her grandparents, the Grant Blacks; Henry was placed with an uncle; Jean would be raised by Mr. and Mrs. John Dye, and Forest Lee was cared for by Mr. and Mrs. O. D. Davis. Mae and Marie were at the age of three and two and would become the biggest blessing to Harry and Hattie Willis in May of 1934. Although the children were placed in separate places they always knew their siblings. Those that took them in always made sure they remained connected with their siblings. As one nephew said they may be spread out but they are very close.
The early years the Willis’s lived in the Maple Leaf community south of Hugoton where Mae met Elwyn Ray . From the beginning at Lafayette school Mae stated that Elwyn was her boyfriend. Granddad Willis wrote “little did we realize when Mae was saying Elwyn Ray was her boyfriend from her first year of school at Lafayette that in 1949 Elwyn would become our first son- in-law.”
The Willis’s lived in the Maple Leaf community until September 1938 when Harry lost the farm and the family left Kansas to live in Long Beach, California, during the dirty thirties. Mae always told while in California her parents took her to the beach to “sun” as often as they could which she didn’t like. They stayed in California until July 1944 when they returned to Kansas north of Rolla where the girls finished their elementary school at Dermot. When it was time for them to attend high school they, like many others, rented an apartment during the school year and walked to school each day. The apartment was across the street from the church we are in today.
On August 15, 1948 Mae married John Elwyn Ray the day after her 18th birthday. The Rays made their home on the family homestead in south Stevens County. To this union were born five children: Linda, Danny, Rodney, Doug, and Kathy. When Kathy was born Elwyn took up the hobby of “photography” so they would have photos to share with their family. Mae enjoyed this also and they embarked on an interest that eventually led them from county fairs to being full-fledged professional photographers and eventually opening a family business “Raycolor” in July of 1968. All their children except Linda worked in the business which was one of its kind – photofinishing that serviced Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado for over 40 years.
Mae and Elwyn also enjoyed traveling and in their 60’s were able to take their travel trailer and travel with friends and relatives across the United States. They loved to go to Arizona, Florida and don’t forget Branson where they loved to see The Presley Family.
After retirement Mae became involved in Project Hope with friends Adena and Dwain Towner. She continued her volunteering until her passing. She was so proud that great grandson Jacob enlisted in the Navy like his great Granddad and is now serving in the Navy with the Presidential Ceremonial Guard in Washington D. C.
Mae was preceded in death by her spouse Elwyn in 2009, parents Harry and Hattie Willis, sister June, brother Henry, and children Doug, Linda, and Rodney. She is survived by her children: Danny, wife Rhonda of Hugoton, their children Wayne (Wichita), wife Megan and children Kaylee, Isabelle , and Lilah, Ginny Muncy (Hugoton), husband Bryan and children Zachary, Christian, Brittany and Jayme, and Tandy Ray of Seattle.
Daughter - in – law Ruthanna Ray of Olathe, Rodney’s girls Melissa Watson, husband Scott of Guymon and their children Hannah, Jacob, and Nathan and Joanna Ray of Olathe, Kansas.
Daughter Kathy Purcell, husband Larry, sons Jeremy, Katy, TX and his son Jeremyah, and Will, Hugoton and his daughter Aubree and Larry’s daughters Dixie, Cindy, and Michelle and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Mae had a very blessed life with family and friends. When calling to tell of Mae’s passing many nieces on the Ray side commented “we lost the “matriarch”.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to United Methodist Church, Hugoton or Project Hope. Memorials may be mailed to Paul's-Robson Funeral Home-PO Box 236-Hugoton, KS 67951.
Funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 10 AM at Hugoton United Methodist Church and burial will be at the Hugoton Cemetery with Pastor Becky Davison presiding.
Friends may call Wednesday, December 5, 2018 from 10 AM to 8 PM at Paul’s-Robson Funeral Home, Hugoton.