Dunbar Funeral Home - Northeast

4219 Hard Scrabble RD, Columbia, SC


Ralph Charles Ray

April 11, 1946March 20, 2020

COLUMBIA - Ralph Charles Ray, 73, passed away Friday, March 20, 2020. Born April 11, 1946 in Parsons, West Virginia, he was the second son of the late William J. Ray and Ruth Virginia. On August 26, 1967, he married Catherine “Cathy” in Taylor, Michigan. Ralph graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1969. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant ROTC into the U.S. Army. He was Accountable Officer for the Aviation Material Management Center, 34th General Support Group, 1st Aviation Brigade in Tan Son Nhut, near the city of Saigon, Vietnam. His service earned him the Bronze Star. Ralph was stationed Stateside at Ft. Eustis and Ft. Lee in Virginia; Ft. Walters in Texas; and Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indiana.

After the Army, Ralph returned to Michigan, where he worked in the IT field as a programmer, systems analyst and consultant before moving to Clearwater, Florida in the early 1990’s. His work continued as a computer consultant after moving to Marietta, Georgia. He and his wife, Cathy, have resided in North Springs since 2004 and he has since retired from his consulting field in 2010. Since his retirement, he was logged over 25,000 miles, WALKING! In 2016, he adopted Clemson Highway from Lightwood Knot to Hard Scrabble Road as RALPH’S ROUTE for the Adopt-A-Highway Program for South Carolina. No doubt you’ve seen him there nearly every day. A honk and a wave did not go unacknowledged.

Ralph is survived by his wife, Cathy, of 52 years; son, Steve Ray (Ness); daughter, Laurie Gersky (Jon); brother, Lee Ray (Sue); sister, Dyanna Stafford (Bill); brother, Richard Ray (Pamela); three grandchildren, Karissa, Caden and Kylar; and several nieces and nephews.

Private services at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Columbia, SC will be held on March 27, 2020. Interment will be scheduled at a later date in Ft. Jackson National Cemetery with military honors.

Memories may be shared at www.dunbarfunerals.com.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Ralph Charles Ray

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sam Drew

March 26, 2020

Ralph Ray was a sight to behold when he and Cathy moved across the street from us in 2004. We didn’t meet him until later but his energy and industriousness was evident in shaping the landscaping around his home, motivating us to do better with ours. We noticed also his presence around the larger neighborhood voluntarily cleaning trash and making the wider community a better and more beautiful place to live. He was a man who believed in contributing and giving back to his community. I wanted to meet this man and spoke to him from the yard on several occasions when he walked his dogs. He seemed a man of few words, always acknowledging our greetings, but not stopping to talk long. As time passed and our respective dogs yelped to greet each other, the conversations with Ralph were longer and we got to know each other a little better. It was through his son, Steve and daughter-in-law, Ness that we really learned more about Ralph.

Steve and Ness began helping us with our yard two years ago; It was evident to Mary and me that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with Steve. He had the same drive, work ethic and kind disposition of his Father - though, admittedly, talked more. Steve talked constantly about his father and his father’s accomplishments and we learned more about Ralph from listening to these stories. Steve’s stories made clear to us the love Ralph had for his family. He was shy to the point of appearing non- social to some; but in reality he was a man content with his own strengths and contributions and with no need to broadcast his achievements to others.

Mary and I were happy to be invited to celebrate with Ralph and Cathy at their home on their 50th wedding anniversary two years ago. Cathy was radiant and Ralph kept a smile on his face. It was obvious that many happy memories lived there.

We grieve with the entire Ray family and are happy to have them as our neighbors.

Sam and Mary Drew

Rosemary Grealish

March 25, 2020

Dear Cathy, I'm so sorry for this tragic loss.

I still remember Ralph's kindness when my daughter and her roommate were seeking shelter from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. She had just moved into her dorm to start her freshman year at SCAD days before when the school evacuated all students. Her roommate happened to have a car, and they headed west. They were driving around Atlanta when she called me (luckily her roommate also had a cell phone) asking what to do since they had no reservations. I recalled that you lived in the area, so took a chance and called. You weren't home, but Ralph answered, and after I explained who I was and what I needed, he said sure, they were welcome to stay. and gave me directions that I relayed to the girls. About 20 min later, after realizing that I'd forgotten to even give him their names, I called back. He said that they'd introduced themselves when they turned up on your doorstep within 10 minutes after I'd called! He was a god-send that night, and I'll never forget your hospitality, hosting the girls for several nights until they could get back to Savannah.

Love to one of my oldest friends!
Rosemary (Pantalone) Grealish

Steve Ray

March 25, 2020

My dad could seem mean to some and very kind to others. He spoke very highly of me to anyone he spoke to but struggled to be “sappy” enough to tell me – I Love You Son. We hugged when I left on a long trip up to Michigan. He gave me money to get up there if he felt I was short, and we emailed each other each day; you could tell he truly missed me when I wintered up north. I struggle to find answers to why we could not say IT (I Loved You) I guess it was some shyness. He was a man who briefly served our country volunteering when others shrunk away from this, worked up to 80 hours some weeks to provide an upper middle class lifestyle, and the best schools for both my sister Laurie and myself. We had extras like a trip to France, a family vacation to Hawaii, or just bought all our candy bars for sports teams to keep us from walking door to door to sell (I guess he thought that having lots of strangers say NO was a lesson we should learn later). He made sure we could swim because he missed out on so much by not having that skill. Repaired “Big Wheels” as fast as I broke them so I could destroy them again and along that line passed on vital skills in mechanics, construction, and technology before there was a YOUTUBE. This made me the confident man that I am and appreciative of so much that others give.

On the day he passed I logged on to this system I’m using now. This document file was on the desktop with nothing in it at all. I
was perplexed. Did he forget to write something in it? So, missing my father, wondering if I learned enough, sorting and cleaning up his things up here, and trying to focus on all the funny stories about family while walking the soles off our tennis shoes – I’m inspired to let everyone of you know how well my father lived, how much we appreciate the unique kindness of each of you, and oh by the way:
I Love You.

Mary Hershberger

March 24, 2020

Remembering Ralph taking good care of Frizzy in our motorhome during their visit.
Ralph talked to me about accomodating Cathy's wishes for more cabinets in their home. It seems to me that Ralph was a very caring, good hearted person.