Louise Ray tabbed as chamber’s 2015 Stephen Decatur recipient

Staff Writer

    The Decatur Chamber of Commerce has announced Louise Ray as the recipient of the 2015 Stephen Decatur Award. The award, and others, will be presented during the chamber’s annual membership banquet and awards ceremony on Feb. 4 at the the Decatur Knights of Columbus hall. Social hour begins at 5:45 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m.
    According to a statement from the chamber, Ray — owner of Don Ray Drive-A-Way — has been very active in Adams County for many years, including involvement in the Adams County Community Foundation, the Don Ray Memorial Scholarship, Pennsy Depot restoration, Youth For Christ, Andrews Addition/Don Ray Ball Field in Monroe, cancer institute, weekend meals for youth and the Decatur Christmas tree-lighting event. For years, she has been a 4-H sponsor. For many years Louise and her late husband, Don, bid on and purchased animals at the 4-H Fair livestock auction. The processed meat was then donated.

    Coni Mayer, executive director of the ACCF, nominated Ray for the Stephen Decatur award. The support for that nomination, Mayer said, was overwhelming.
     “As every person who provided information said — and this was repeated over and over — much of what Louise Ray does is undercover, under-the-radar and out of focus. Louise does not like the spotlight to be on her, but rather focuses on the good things that come about from her involvement and support,” Mayer said. “She is a community member that has proven to offer support of her time and all else because she truly is a giver.”  
    Mayer said Louise Ray established the Don Ray Memorial Scholarship to honor her late husband. “When Louise offers words of support to graduating high school seniors, without script or practice, she speaks from her heart. She advises students to be honest and hardworking; to remember God in their lives and to honor their parents.  She encourages students to be trustworthy and faithful.  She speaks this from her heart because this is the life she practices.”
    Sandy Collier, a member of the Pennsy Depot Restoration Committee, said Ray is “always graciously ready to offer help whenever she can. She has supported our Pennsy Depot projects in almost every way, in addition to financial donations.  She has also loyally shown up for all our events in support of our group and our efforts. She is a shining example of the community spirit.”

    Dave Fox, former executive director of the Youth for Christ organization, said Ray “is one of the most Godly woman I have ever met. Her passion there was the spiritual well-being of the students of Adams, Wells, and Jay counties. She loves people and goes out of her way to unselfishly look to the needs of others. If I become aware of a need in our community, I know Louise is one who when presented with the need, will do whatever she can to help.”
    Dave Soldner, fundraising chair for the Don Ray Ball Field in Monroe, said Don and Louise Ray    purchased 40 acres in Monroe “and told me to take however many acres we needed for a ballpark. Sadly, Don never saw the park completed; he passed away in November 2002.  The Monroe Youth League had its first spring season 2003.  Don and Louise Ray were very supportive of this youth baseball diamond being constructed in Monroe.
    “Louise would not let us name the park after Don Ray because of their humbleness. After the second season, the Ball Park Board of Directors decided to do what was right and name the park after Don Ray. So the park’s name is Don Ray Memorial Park. On any given weekend in the summer, you can  find 300-500 people using this ballpark and enjoying, truly, the All-American dream,”  Soldner said.

    Christen Sprunger, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Adams County, said Louise Ray has been a strong supporter of the club.
     “Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ Louise Ray has made a living through her hard work and dedication to her business,” said Sprunger. “She has worked diligently to build a business of honorable reputation and commitment to integrity and customer satisfaction. For more than 20 years Louise has dedicated herself to saving the lives of children through her involvement in the Boys & Girls Club of Adams County. She has invested countless hours, talents and immense treasure toward the mission of the Club which is, ‘to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.’”