A servant to education and the Waxahachie community passed away.
Jimmie Ray was born in Tyler and served his country as a Private First Class (PFC) supply handler in the United States Army from May 26, 1957, to April 30, 1963.
In 1961 he enrolled in Texas College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. It was a job within Waxahachie ISD that brought him south in 1961.
When Ray and his wife, Melba, relocated to Waxahachie in 1961 he took a position of a math teacher and basketball coach at Turner High School.
He would then on be forever known as “Coach Ray.”
In a previous Daily Light article, Ray described himself as a "disciplinary" and someone who pushed students to their limits so they would do better.
“When I first came here, Turner High School was a jungle, and I believed in discipline, and it made a difference,” Ray said.
In the 1960s, Ray was moved from Turner High School to Marvin Junior High with integration initiatives and is credited with easing tensions during a challenging time for the nation.
As his path in education continued, he went on to work at Waxahachie High School (1970-74) where he became an assistant principal in 1974.
During his career, Ray had the opportunity to coach and teach a current Waxahachie City Council member and former safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-72, Chuck Beatty. Ray coached Beatty in basketball and football from 1962-64 at Turner High School.
“Coach was a coach, friend and mentor,” Beatty stated in a 2016 article. “Our age difference wasn’t much. He came in when I was a junior in high school, and he had just started teaching. That’s why we were so close. He treated us as equals, but we still respected him as a coach.”
Over Beatty’s career, the two continued a close relationship.
“I was gone for a while, and when I came back to town, he was one of the first people to welcome me back to town,” Beatty said.
Under Ray’s coaching, the basketball team went to state, and he was later inducted into the sixth Waxahachie High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ray devoted 39 years to Waxahachie ISD with 16 of them spent teaching and coaching, four years as an assistant principal, and 14 as principal for Northside Elementary (1983-99) and then a senior administrator for another five.
Ray was elected as a constable precinct 3 in 2000 and held his position until his health began deteriorating in June of 2016.
Ray was diagnosed with stage three renal failure, which evolved to stage four by April 2016. Three months after the initial diagnosis, he suffered a stroke.
On July 13, the Waxahachie Police Department expressed on Facebook that it was saddened when “Coach Ray,” passed away at the age of 82.
The day after his passing, Northside Elementary posted, "We honor his lasting legacy and the positive influence he had on so many in our community."
Ray was described as a "key figure" and the "face of Waxahachie."
Ellis County Pct. 3 constable Curtis Polk Jr., expressed his condolences on social media, writing, "He was one of the reasons for me wanting to be a constable. Mr. Ray is a legend to our county, he was a coach, principal, and an Ellis County constable. Constable Ray, you left your mark on Ellis County. Thanks for all that you done for me."
To honor and celebrate the life of Ray, a service will take place on Friday with the visitation starting at 10 a.m. until noon. The funeral will proceed from noon until 1 p.m. Both services will be held at the Waxahachie Civic Center, located at 2000 Civic Center Ln. in Waxahachie.
Immediately following the funeral service, the burial will take place at the Ray's family memorial in Whitehouse, Texas.