William Blue Ray ’51

William Blue Ray ’51, of Ocala, Fla., passed away at home on March 29 from congestive heart failure. He was born in Ocala in 1928 and was a lifetime resident of Ocala. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Miriam, 543 NE 44th Ter., Ocala, FL 34470-1457; son, Edward Ray (Terri); daughters, Marguerite Blocker (Michael) and Miriam Mitchum (Scott); 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; sister, Harriet Berman; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, William Blue Ray, Jr. After graduating from Davidson, he attended graduate school at the University of Florida, where he was a Phi Delta Theta. He was a champion swimmer and broke a Southern Conference record while captain of the swim team at Davidson. He organized and taught the first law enforcement scuba class in the country. Ray began his career as advertising director and, later, publicity director at Silver Springs, of which his family was majority owner and operator for 38 years. He traveled extensively to New York, Hollywood, and Chicago promoting Silver Springs. He brought many movie stars and famous people to Ocala and Silver Springs, including Esther Williams, Howard Hughes, Arlene Francis, Jayne Mansfield, Lloyd Bridges, and Debbie Reynolds. During his lifetime he was president of the Florida Attractions Association, chairman of the Florida Tourism Committee, general manager and director of Homosassa Springs, and president of Routed Signs, Inc., Southern Outdoor Advertising, and Ray Outdoor Advertising. He was a founding board member of the Boys Club of Marion County and served on the board of numerous organizations, including the Florida Forestry Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Marion County Chamber of Commerce. He was a board member and director at Commercial Bank and Trust Company, SunTrust, and SunBank. He was president of the Salt Springs Corporation prior to it being sold to the state of Florida. In 1972 he established Sport City, which was the most complete marine and sporting goods store south of Atlanta. He was a strong proponent of customer satisfaction and service. Ray was an avid conservationist and organic gardener with an unforgettable sense of humor and quick wit. His generosity and support was extended to numerous missionaries, orphanages, colleges, scholarships, and various charities. Ray was a devout Christian who looked forward to his heavenly home. He said without God he would have nothing, and it was his privilege to help others.