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Levon L. Ray, 95, husband, father, war veteran, research scientist, and friend of many, died Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Services will be 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.
Mr. Ray was born Sept. 16, 1918 in Poolville to John Thomas Ray and Emma (Mader) Ray. He married Marjorie Ruth Freiley Aug. 6, 1943 in Springtown. They lived most of their married life in Lubbock. Levon graduated from Poolville High School, Weatherford College, and received a BS and MS in Agriculture from Texas Tech University and his PhD in 1957 from Texas A&M University.
In 1941, he was commissioned as an Aviation Cadet, completed his training, and served as a B-17 navigator from 1941 through 1943, flying 50 combat missions with the 97th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force, in 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. Ray 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. He 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.
His beloved wife of 66 years, Marjorie, preceded him in death in March 2009.
Ray was a long-time 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.
Survivors include sons, Mickey Ray and his wife, Pat, of Rockport; Tom Ray and wife, Sandy, of Waco; grandchildren, Cari Tasin and husband, Trevor, of New Braunfels, Christi Hogg and husband, Gary, of Corpus Christi, Kelly Cobb and husband, Chris, of Benbrook, Allison Farrar and husband, Pat, of Waco, Larren Silver and wife, Kera, of Snyder, Kyle Ray and wife, Bonnie, of Waco, and Brandon Ray of Waco; and 18 great-grandchildren.
Pallbearers will be his grandsons.