On November 29, 2020, Mary Elizabeth Ray went home to be with her Lord. She was born in Progress, Mississippi (Perry County), on June 29, 1924. Her father was a Baptist preacher, and the family moved frequently. After graduating from Mississippi College, she moved to New Orleans, LA where she married Charles A. Ray. Together they served churches in Mississippi—Bala Chitto, Bluff Springs and Price Street in Pike County, Moorhead Baptist Church, North Greenwood Baptist Church—as well as churches in Thailand and Japan with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mary Elizabeth was a true partner in Charles’s ministry. They had been married for 68 years when Charles died.
In retirement Mary Elizabeth and Charles taught English in China for three years. When they settled in Purvis, Mississippi, she became active in supporting the treatment of mental illnesses. In 2004 she received the Hero Award from the South Mississippi State Hospital for her volunteer work. In addition, she worked with women transitioning from jail to life outside. She and her husband were also hospice volunteers. In her later years she continued to participate actively in her church and community.
Mary Elizabeth was preceded in death by her husband, Charles A. Ray, her father, Martin J Gilbert, her mother, Pearl Lewis Gilbert, three brothers, John L. Gilbert, James Pascal Gilbert, and J. T. Gilbert and one sister-in-law, Betty Jean Gilbert. She is survived by her three children, Charlie Ray, Jr (Sheryl), Betty Ray, and Gil Ray (Marilyn), and two sisters-in-law, Dottie Gilbert and Nan Gilbert. She is also survived by six grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was Angel to her husband, Mama to her children, and Nana to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was loved and will be missed.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Charles Ray PhD Scholarship at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 3939 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126.
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