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Parents' support of education honored through endowed scholarship

Rays

Frank “Lynn” and Oleta Ray were the greatest teachers their children ever knew. 

The couple, who raised six kids on a modest income, provided daily lessons on the value of hard work, self-sufficiency and responsibility. There was one lesson they particularly stressed: the importance of earning a college degree.  Lynn had a taste of higher education at community college and when he spent a semester at the University of Oklahoma, and Oleta went through a secretarial program at then Southwestern State College in Weatherford; they both understood how a college education could change their children’s lives for the better.

Those lessons stuck: All six of the Rays’ children earned bachelor’s degrees or higher.

“They knew that was the way to a better life, and they stressed that we make good grades in school,” said Patti Holcomb, one of the Rays’ children. “They had such high hopes for their children, and we wanted to honor them with our lives. To do that meant getting good educations and living good lives – the lives that they had taught us to live. There was nothing that meant more to my parents than knowing their children had all received college educations.”

Because Lynn was a staunch OU supporter and both Lynn and Oleta hailed from Oklahoma, their children and grandchildren decided there was no better way to honor them than through a scholarship endowment  at the University of Oklahoma that will provide a lasting tribute while also creating positive outcomes for future generations.  The Frank “Lynn” and Oleta Ray Scholarship is designated for students who graduate from high schools in Jackson County, where Lynn and Oleta were born and raised. The first two recipients are Cameron Lohmann from Duke and Jake Warren from Altus. Recipients each receive $2,000 from the scholarship endowment, which is matched by the OU Alumni Association.  The scholarship is awarded through the OU Club of Altus.

Lynn Ray attended OU in the summer of 1940 before heading off to serve in the Army during World War II. He was stationed in Italy, where he repaired aircraft returning from bombing missions over Germany.  His children said he was honored to serve his country during the war and often spoke of his experiences. After he returned to the States, married Oleta and started a family, Lynn Ray, who passed away in 2009, was offered a position in sales for Quaker State Corp. and moved the family to Amarillo, Texas. A gifted salesman with a wonderful outgoing personality, he also worked for Whirlpool and Bio-Assay Laboratories, a subsidiary of the Revlon Corp. Oleta Ray, who passed away in April, also had a successful professional career, working at an Amarillo-based finance company and later as a counselor at the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, serving 20 years in the latter position; on top of it all, she owned and operated a popular wedding and party catering business in Amarillo and even taught Sunday school. Holcomb said the Ray children are in agreement that their mother was “one of the most multi-talented and loving people” they have ever known.

Faith and family took top priority in the Ray household, Holcomb said, and Lynn and Oleta Ray would attend their children’s athletic and academic events and also escort them to church activities. Holcomb said her parents made many sacrifices for their children to ensure they had a good life.

“If our mother and our dad were still alive, they would be beaming with pride to sit at the graduation ceremony at Altus, Oklahoma, and have their names read for a scholarship in their honor,” Holcomb said. “This scholarship is a way for me and my siblings to show how much we loved them and a way for their name and legacy to live on.  Our prayers and well-wishes go with the scholarship recipients and their families.  Our parents would be so very proud to know that the recipients are able to use these scholarship funds to help achieve their educational goals.”

(Pictured: Top images are Frank "Lynn" Ray during his early and later years. Bottom images are of Oleta Ray during her earlier and later years.)