WACO – Levon L. Ray, 95, husband, father, war veteran, research scientist and friend of many went to his heavenly home on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Service is 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, at Poolville United Methodist Church with Rev. Dave Goodrich and his grandson, Rev. Chris Cobb, officiating. Burial will follow at Poolville Cemetery. Pallbearers will be his grandsons.
Levon was born Sept. 16, 1918, in Poolville to John Thomas Ray and Emma (Mader) Ray. He married Marjorie Ruth Freiley on Aug. 6, 1943, in Springtown. They lived most of their married life in Lubbock. Levon graduated from Poolville High School, Weatherford College and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agriculture from Texas Tech University and his doctorate in 1957 from Texas A&M University.
In 1941, he was commissioned as an aviation cadet, completed his training and then served as a B-17 navigator from 1941 through 1943, flying 50 combat missions with the 97th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force, in both the European and North African Theaters. He was the navigator in the B-17 Fortress that led the first American heavy bomber mission into Europe. Levon was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal on several occasions. After the war, he joined the Air Force Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
During his 37 year career as a research agronomist, Dr. Ray pioneered several cotton varieties adapted to the Texas High Plains. Dr. Ray received numerous agricultural awards and other recognitions including Outstanding Agriculturist (1974) and Distinguished Alumni (1986) from Texas Tech University, Weatherford College Distinguished Alumni (1995), Progressive Farmer’s Man of the Year in Southwestern Agriculture for 1971, and a Superior Service Award from the USDA. Upon retirement, he was a Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University.
He was a wonderful, loving husband, father and beloved life-navigator for two sons, Mickey Ray, of Rockport, and Tom Ray, of Waco. Levon loved the Lord and was a devoted longtime member of Asbury United Methodist Church, in Lubbock. After more than 45 years in Lubbock, he and Marjorie moved back to the family farm in Poolville, where they were active members of the Poolville United Methodist Church. In 2008, they moved to Waco to be near family.