Elizabeth “Bettye” Ray

On Thursday morning, November 12, 2020, Elizabeth “Bettye” Ray peacefully passed away at her home in Jena, Louisiana surrounded by her loved ones. Her family has no doubt the Lord specifically chose this date for her. We are certain she had many discussions with Him about this. She always claimed she did not want to get old and while 89 may not have been old to her, 90 certainly would have been. So, she departed this wonderful life, and was welcomed by her Lord and Savior, exactly one month shy of her 90th birthday.

Bettye was born December 12, 1930 to John and Betty (Jeffery) Stair in Little Rock, Arkansas where she attended and graduated from North Little Rock High School in 1949. She furthered her education when she became a Registered Nurse in 1952 after completing the Nursing Program at St. Vincent’s Infirmary in Little Rock and practiced her skills over forty years, especially loving her work as a surgical nurse. She married Darrell Ray in August, 1971. They spent their lifetime together raising their three daughters while living on the lake at Toledo Bend.

Bettye loved painting, reading, and had an avid green thumb for gardening. Running a close race to all her other loves was her passion for sports. She was a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Her children claimed tennis great, Rafa Nadal, as their long-lost brother because she loved and followed his career faithfully over the years. She once took her daughters for a tennis weekend when Spain played against the USA in the World Cup to see their “brother” play.

She enjoyed listening to music, and as you might expect, liked a wide variety from classical to Bon Jovi. She made great contributions to the small town she loved dearly through her work as a nurse at the Sabine County Hospital, her work as a school nurse for Hemphill I.S.D., and in her service to the same school system as the first female President of the School Board. 

Bettye is remembered in her community for the instrumental role she played in the planting of the "Bicentennial Oak" tree on school grounds in February, 1976. She believed the elementary school children should have shade on their playground as well as playground equipment. She tirelessly worked to raise money for this cause. There stands today a plaque to honor her for this contribution. It is a beautiful tree and she was deeply proud of that effort that lives today as a great example of her love for the children and her community.

Bettye was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Hemphill, Texas. Upon moving closer to her daughter she became a member of First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, Texas. She fellowshipped daily with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, especially when she could no longer attend services in person.

Bettye’s most valuable treasure were her children whom she loved dearly and was extremely proud. She instilled in them what her parents taught her; family is the most important thing in one’s life. Left to cherish her precious memory and feisty spirit are her children: daughters, Liz Webb (John) of Lindale, Texas, Cam Ray of Austin, Texas, Robyn Smith (Paul) of Jena, Louisiana; her son, Rob Von Tungeln (Patti) of Sugar Land, Texas; grandchildren Cameron Malone, Drew Webb (Sara), Megan LaMantia (Nicholas), and Kyle Von Tungeln (Paige); great-grandchildren Aubrey, Bailey, and Turner Durham, along with her three siblings and several nieces and nephews.

Bettye was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and her precious niece, Nancy Friese.

A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held in the Chapel of Starr Funeral Home in Hemphill, Texas on Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to your favorite charity in her memory.

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