James "Frank" Ray

August 1, 1938 ~ July 18, 2018 (age 79)

James Francis “Frank” Ray August 1, 1938 – July 18, 2018 (Age 79) James “Frank” Ray’s journey began in Crestview, FL on August 1, 1938 and it ended a short distance away, but many miles later in Pensacola, FL on July 18, 2018 at nearly 80 years of age. Frank was predeceased by his parents, E.V. “Vinson” and Elizabeth Howell Ray. He is survived by his two children and son-in laws, Beth (Steve) Brant and Dana (Roy) Petrey, two grandsons, Drew Brant and Cole Ransom, niece Charlotte Ray Cahn, great nephew Evan, brother Donald (Jan) Ray and three very special step-grands that brightened his later years, Brentley and Brystol Mitchell and Eli Chunn. Frank spent his childhood on a growing family farm north of Baker, FL. Although the Baker area would remain “home” throughout his life, he spread his wings early and as often as possible. Upon graduation from Crestview High School at a young age, he briefly attended the University of FL, where he planted a big piece of his heart. He completed his education at Tulane University in New Orleans, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelors and a lifelong dedication to Sigma Nu Fraternity. There he met his Mississippi bride, Lynda Yates, who traveled the world with him for decades, while making the family farm “home” for him and their two daughters, Beth and Dana, and a never-ending menagerie of animals. After stints at Honeywell in Clearwater, FL working with the team designing the guidance system for the SR-71 Blackbird and selling fertilizer throughout the Deep South for Kerr-McGee, he settled on the farm in the late 60s, gradually taking over the reins of it from his father. He finally completely retired from farming in 2002 after his mother’s passing. He spent the next several years in retirement between Huntsville, AL and Helen, GA. Failing health brought him back to the area in 2014 but with the excellent care of local doctors, particularly Dr. Wayne Campbell (also a lifelong friend), Drs. Levine and Aubert of White-Wilson Medical Center Neurology and Dr. Christopher Reid of Renalus Kidney Care Group, he enjoyed much better health and quality family time during the ensuing years. Although Frank was a farmer by trade, he was a politician and marketer at heart. He spent countless time in Tallahassee and Washington, DC, marketing and lobbying for agricultural policies and products. Much of that time was spent at the behest of the American Soybean Association (ASA), based in St. Louis, MO. He was the first President then Chairman of the Board of the ASA from a non-traditional soybean producing state which meant he earned the post on his merit, not the politics of his state leadership, for which he was always proud. During this period in the late 70s into the early 80s he traveled extensively marketing American soybean products to 27 countries around the globe including China, India, Japan and too many Far Eastern countries to name. However, his favorite trip was one he took with Lynda in 1972 to Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia, as a prize sponsored by Elanco given to the highest producing soybean farmer in each state. During this two-week adventure they bonded with folks who became lifelong friends and whose tales have become family lore. In what spare time remained, he was a long-term Elder in the Presbyterian Church, Board Member and advocate for Farm Bureau, volunteer for local and statewide 4-H (thanks to his dear friend County agent Charlie Walthall and his girls), a long-time member and Don of Los Caballeros social group and a willing volunteer for any charity that needed his time and talents. His family will never forget him walking the March of Dimes walkathon in boots or bringing an orphan calf to Bob Sikes Elementary to share with the “city kids” who never saw such up close. Many deeds were without fanfare but are remembered by those he touched, including donating gallons of blood. His heart was always with children and animals and one of our last happy memories with him was Father’s Day weekend as he watched baseball with a new kitten curled in his lap, enjoying fresh veggies and a fish fry with his extended family. The family would particularly like to thank the caring staff and residents of Crescent Park Village for providing a safe and happy home for him over the last three years. All went above and beyond in their care, concern and compassion. He has left a big empty chair by their front door and a mountain of books for someone to read. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his name to Thornwell Children’s Home, 302 South Broad St., Clinton, SC 29325 or Thornwell began as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in 1875 and continues to offer Christian love through foster care, residential care and educational support programs to children in need throughout SC, GA and FL. A memorial service in his honor will be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 10 am at Whitehurst Powell Funeral Home. Although he gladly spent many days in a suit and tie, he was happiest in his Gator orange and blue. The family requests you wear your favorite colors to this celebration of his life, as he greatly appreciated loyalty to an alma mater, regardless of the institution.

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