ROBBINSTON AND EASTPORT – Ralph Saleem Ray, 92, of Robbinston and Eastport passed away at his home on Boydens Lake, surrounded by his family, July 5, 2014. He was born in Bangor, Jan 15, 1922 to Lebanese immigrants, Nicholas Ray and Elsie Lewis Ray.
Ralph was proud of his Lebanese heritage, and passed his passion for Middle Eastern cooking and family gatherings on to his family. The family name, Kfoury, had been changed to Ray on Ellis Island.
In 1935, Ralph’s family moved to Eastport, anticipating an economic boom from the planned Quoddy Dam project. His father was an entrepreneur and established a business selling oil burning equipment, timed to capitalize on the conversion from wood stoves to central heating systems. At Shead Memorial High School, Ralph was president of the Class of 1939, played basketball and baseball and graduated as Class Salutatorian.
With the death of his father in 1938, he assumed the role of head of household and eventually took over the family business. In 1942, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and discovered his passion and aptitude for flying. He was named the top ranking cadet in flight school at Maxwell Field in Alabama and studied at Colby College and University of Rochester. Upon the completion of his training, he was assigned to train other pilots on the Boeing-Stearman double open cockpit, bi-plane. After the war, he returned to Eastport and re-established the family’s plumbing and heating business. Over the years, he expanded the business to include appliance sales and service, propane gas sales, electrical and plumbing contracting and a laundromat. He was a successful small businessman, known for his hard work, strong commercial acumen and honesty.
In 1950, he married Cyrilla Fae Boomer Marshall, a widow from Lubec, and they raised six children in a large colonial house in the middle of Eastport. It was hub of activity and his children have wonderful memories of growing up in Eastport, with summers spent on Boydens Lake. He and Fae had a wide group of friends and enjoyed an active social life – filled with music, dancing, fishing trips, card games, cocktails and cookouts – for many happy years. Ralph was active in his community and served at various times on the school board, town council, library board, Rotary Club, and church committees. In 1985, he sold the business and joined the faculty of Washington County Community College, teaching heating and serving as Chair of the Trades Committee. He loved his years at WCCC and made many lasting friendships with students and fellow teachers. More recently, he served on the Board of Directors for Eastern Maine Electric Co-op.
Upon retirement, Ralph and Fae spent several winters in Crystal River, Florida and enjoyed exploring the area. He joined the local flying club and renewed his pilot’s license.
Ralph was a renaissance man. He had many hobbies and interests and never sat idle. From cooking, wood working, gardening, fishing, golf, sketching, music, poker to bridge, there was little that he couldn’t master (except perhaps golf). He knew West Grand Lake like the back of his hand and never failed to land fish on his annual fishing trips with his friends and family. Ralph lived independently on Boydens Lake until the very end.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Fae in 1995 and his brothers, Dr. Ferris Ray of Falmouth in 2010 and Kenneth Ray of Los Osos, California in 2014. He leaves behind his six children who cherish his memory: John Marshall of Eastport; Jo Ann Ray and her partner, Vic Nunan, of Kennebunk; David Ray and his wife, Kay, of Yarmouth; Elizabeth Furth and her husband, Peter, of Boston, Massachusetts; Kenneth Ray and his wife, Julieanne, of North Yarmouth; and Amy Ray and her husband, Mike Stewart, of Monmouth. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren.
The Ray family wishes to extend their thanks to Dr. Charles Carpenter and the entire staff at Maine Cardiology Associates for the wonderful care provided to Ralph.
A memorial service will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, 21 Key St., Eastport, Saturday, July 12th at 1 p.m. and a celebration of Ralph’s life will follow at the Landmark, 1887 Grill and Ale House, 32 Water St., Eastport at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the charity of your choice. Arrangements by Mays Funeral Home, Calais & Eastport. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.maysfuneralhome.com