Carl  Ray

Obituary of Carl L Ray

Carl L. Ray, 83, of Winter Haven, Florida, formerly of Summit, Mississippi, passed away May 11, 2023, at Good Shepherd Hospice  House.  He was born on October 6, 1939 in Eupora Mississippi to Carl and Marie Burton Ray.

Carl attended school in Summit, Mississippi until school consolidation in 1957 graduating from McComb High School in 1958.  He played all sports in high school, excelling in baseball as a varsity pitcher in the 8th grade.  His talented team of 13 players won the State Championship in 1954 defeating larger high schools.  The teams continued to be successful thru graduation.

Carl attended Mississippi State University on a baseball scholarship.  The best games were those he pitched and won against close SEC rival Ole MISS.

His career in education began at North Pike High School in Summit Mississippi coaching baseball, basketball, football, and teaching business classes.

The family moved to Winter Haven, Florida in 1969 where he taught and coached at Winter Haven High School.  He held a multitude of roles in the field of education: teacher, coach, co-op education instructor.  After receiving a Masters in School Administration from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, he served as assistant Principal of Auburndale High School and Winter Haven High School.  He became director of both Travis and Ridge Technical Centers.  His last role before retirement was Director of Vocational Education at the District Office in Bartow.  Throughout his  career, Carl enjoyed people, his work, his community and made lifelong friends with young and old.

Upon retirement, Carl and Laura returned to his family farm in Mississippi where they remained until August 2021.  They returned then to Winter Haven to be with family.

On a personal level, Carl was an avid golfer beginning early golfing with a friend as they put their clubs in Carl’s 1966 MGB and headed for any golf course.  He enjoyed playing with his son and daughter especially in tournaments.  He was fortunate to play courses across the United States including Hawaii.

Fishing was another interest, be it fresh or saltwater.  Along with his cousin, they would fish ponds and lakes for whatever was or was not biting.  He fly fished in Montana streams and Key West straits.  All the family enjoyed the fish caught and cooked on Little Gasparilla Island.

Carl and family attended St. Johns United Methodist Church when living in Winter Haven.  He served the church in many capacities.  Laura and he made many lasting relationships in the BYKOTA Class.  They participated in numerous Central America Mission Trips.  Since returning to Winter Haven in 2021, for a short time they have joined Beymer United Methodist Church and the family wants to thank Reverend Rob Harding for his caring, compassionate counseling during Carl’s illness.

He is preceded in death by his parents, his father and mother-in law, Thomas and Frances Rodgers; brother-in laws Thomas Rodgers and Ragan Rodgers and much loved grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

In addition to his wife of 63 years, Laura, all the immediate family resides in Winter Haven.  Survivors include a daughter, Fran Ray Smith and husband Gene; and  a son Kevin Ray.  Grandsons William Smith, Casey Ray and wife Brandi. Granddaughters: Ryann Frances Smith; Kaleigh Ray McCoy and husband Austin.  Great Grandsons:  Cooper and Cameron Ray.  Great Granddaughters:  Reagan Ray, Margeaux and Palmer McCoy. 

A sister, Nancy Ray Yarborough and husband David of Covington, Louisiana. Sister-in laws JoAnne Rodgers of Fairview, Texas; and Karen R. Meadows of Lynchburg, Virginia. Uncle: Floyd Burton of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Aunt: Hap (Fayne) Parker of Collierville, Tennessee.

Nephews:  Michael Yarborough of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Brad Yarborough (Jessica) of Covington, Louisiana; and Tom Rodgers (Laura) of Des Moines, Iowa. Nieces:  Lisa Y. Gorman (Jay) of Milton, Georgia; Katie Y. Turner (Larry) of Mandeville, Louisiana; Kathy Fagan (Paul) of Dallas, Texas; Beth R. Blythe of Bozeman, Montana; and Carolyn R. Liftin (Bryan) of Lynchburg, Virginia.

A special thanks to the Angel Staff of the Infusion Lab of Winter Haven Bay Care Hospital for their compassionate care and the kindness of the nurses at Bond Oncology Lab.

Private graveside family services will be June 14, 11:00 at Hollywood Cemetery in McComb Mississippi with a gathering of friends at Centenary United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 12:30.

Memorials may be sent to Centenary United Methodist Church, 500 Delaware Avenue, McComb, Mississippi 59648 or Beymer United Methodist Church, 700 North Lake Howard Drive, Winter Haven, Florida 33881.

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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Steele's Family Funeral Services
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