Raymon Charles (Ray) Stoker Jr.
February 19, 1939 – August 31, 2018
Raymon Charles (Ray) Stoker, Jr., 79 years, passed away after an illness Friday, August 31, 2018. Ray was born in Odessa, TX, February 19, 1939 to Raymon Charles Stoker, Sr. and Claudene Stoker.
He attended Austin Elementary, Crockett Jr. High, and graduated from Odessa High School in 1957, having been a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council. He was also a member of the varsity football team and was captain his senior year; the varsity baseball team, and the varsity basketball team, so it was no surprise he was voted “Most Athletic” his senior year. Coming in as runner up both his junior and senior years as class favorite, Ray was quoted in his senior yearbook that his life’s desire was: “ to live up to the expectations of my parents and friends.”
Following in the family tradition, Ray attended Baylor University, and in 1961 he received his BBA. He began Baylor on a baseball scholarship, but due to bursitis in his shoulder, he had to stop playing. Determined to find another sport, he taught himself to play golf and was told by the golf coach that if he could beat one of the players on the Baylor Team, he would receive a spot on the roster and a partial scholarship, which is exactly what he did. Both Ray and his father served as captain of the Baylor Golf Team their senior year. During his years as an undergraduate student at Baylor, Ray was a member of Tryon Coterie (Delta Sigma Phi), and was the President of the Letterman’s Club.
In 1964 Ray graduated with his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from Baylor Law School. During his years as a law student, he was a member of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and the Baylor Law Review Editorial Board. Ray was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1964, and admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, and the United States District Court, Western District of Texas.
Ray and Carole Fannin were married August 24, 1963, in Odessa at the First Presbyterian Church, and celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this past week.
After graduating from Baylor, Ray and Carole moved to Austin, where he worked as a briefing attorney for Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert W. Calvert. In 1965 they moved back to Odessa, where Ray joined the Shafer Law Firm, where he practiced 53 years.
Ray was an active member in the Odessa community. He was involved in many organizations around the Permian Basin and the state. He was a member of the Texas Young Lawyers Board of Directors (1969); the State Bar of Texas; the American Bar Association; the Ector County Bar Association (President, 1975); the Texas Association of Defense Council, a past member of the Board of Directors of the Baylor Law School; the American Board of Trial Advocates; the American College of Trial Lawyers; the Boy Scouts of America; the Board of Governors of High Sky Children’s Ranch; the Texas Council on Economic Education; the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Development Board; the Regional Planning Committee; the Texas Water Development Board; and the Board of Governors; Permian Basin Area Foundation (2000); Board of Trustees; Permian Basin Petroleum Museum; and the Board of Trustees; Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
Ray was appointed to the Texas State Highway and Public Transportation Commission in July of 1985 by former Baylor Law classmate and friend Governor Mark White, and in March of 1991, after successfully shepherding the Department through a penetrating Sunset review of its mission, and the creation of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot), Governor Ann Richards appointed him as Chairman of the newly formed TxDot agency. He was also a member of the Texas Turnpike Authority and High Speed Rail Authority Boards of Directors. He retired from TxDot and both Turnpike and High Speed Rail boards in January of 1993, and was appointed as Chairman of Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association, serving in this capacity until 2003, and upon his retirement, he was named President Emeritus. Ray was also attorney for the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD).
Ray helped lead successful initiatives to increase the motor fuel tax in 1986, 1987, and 1991. He advocated both rural and urban transportation issues and was instrumental in the development of the Texas Highway Trunk System, a 10,500 mile system of rural highways. He broadened the department’s scope of working to create divisions dedicated to civil rights, environmental affairs, public transportation, and general aviation. Because of his work, in 2005, Ray was inducted into the Transportation Hall of Honor.
As friend John Wilkins said, “Ray had a lot of important decisions, not only here in Odessa, but in Texas. He was instrumental in getting a lot of highway funds and stuff that would normally go to the east of Interstate 35. We’ve got a lot of good roads out here in West Texas, and part of that was due to his influence being chairman of the commission.” One of those good roads here in West Texas is Highway 191 between Odessa and Midland, without which, the area would have suffered an even worse transportation nightmare.
Ray received numerous honors throughout his life including the dedication of the Ray Stoker, Jr. Highway, 1993; the dedication of the Ray Stoker, Jr. Ferry Boat, 1997, servicing Galveston to Bolivar; the Heritage Award of Odessa for service in a profession; the Coleman County Chamber of Commerce Award; the Russel Perry Transportation Award, 1993; Odessa Citizen of the Year, 1991; Transportation Award San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, 1992; UTPB President’s Council, 1992; Outstanding West Texan by the West Texas Regional Council of the Texas Chamber of Commerce; All Southwest Conference Athlete in Golf, 1960-61; American College of Trial Lawyers; Fellow of American Bar Foundation.
One of Ray’s favorite hobbies was hunting, especially hunting behind his English Pointers during quail season, and Labrador Retrievers during dove season. Quail hunting was not only a sport, but a sport in which he could socialize with his many good friends and enjoy the camaraderie while working to bring home food for dinner. He spent many enjoyable hours at his ranch, and other ranches, hunting various game. Ray did not believe in hunting anything that he did not eat, thus he and Carole ate many different kinds of game. One time he killed an Aoudad Sheep in the Glass Mountains and tried various ways to prepare the backstrap, but finally gave up trying to chew. That was the last time to hunt that animal.
Ray continued his love of golf from his Baylor days by playing golf all over the country with friends and family. In 1961, Ray played in the National Amateur at Pebble Beach. During the tournament, he wrote Carole, whom he was dating at the time, a letter telling of a big blond haired boy who could really hit the ball and would probably win the tournament. That blond haired boy was Jack Nicklaus. Ray was a member of the Odessa Country Club, where he spent countless hours perfecting his golf game. His favorite book of instruction was the Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. He even used this book in college to teach himself the game. He also enjoyed traveling with friends from all over the state, and he enjoyed playing golf courses from Augusta National to Pebble Beach and many more in between. Family vacations almost always included time on a golf course.
Ray also loved to fish and spent countless hours fishing for bass. On a trip to Alaska several years ago he fell in love with fly fishing. After this he spent almost all his time fly fishing for bass at the ranch, or trout in the waters of New Mexico. Fly fishing became a favorite sport.
Ray loved to practice law. When he first started his career in 1964, he tried all kinds of cases before narrowing his field of practice to insurance defense trial practice. He was always fair and honest with his clients and his law partners. Ray believed in doing the right thing and was able to solve problems efficiently. He was a clear thinker and arbiter. He had the ability to see a problem and solve it. He knew how to “get things done.” He was a gifted writer in the field of law, and expected good quality from himself and others. He never expected more of others than he did of himself.
Ray had friends from all areas of his life and work, and knew so many people all over the state. He loved people and kept in contact with many of his teachers and friends from grade school through college and law school, and even old friends from Camp Stewart. He met so many new friends when he was appointed to the Texas Highway Commission, and enjoyed maintaining these friendships throughout the years.
A special friendship he maintained throughout the years was with Coach Hayden Fry. Fry’s first coaching job was at Odessa High School, and Ray was the first quarterback he ever coached. Ray continued to keep in contact with Fry all throughout his life. Ray and Carole visited Hayden in person as often as they could, with their last visit in the spring of this year.
Ray and Carole traveled to many great places and had so many memorable trips with friends. Carole happily joined in on the fun whether it was golfing or hunting, and was always ready for the next adventure.
Carole shared about Ray, “He is the kind of man you hope your son will resemble. He has so many characteristics that are admirable and realistic. He truly was a man of genius, honesty, courage, love, athletic ability, emotional stability, and humor. He thought of his fellow man, and tried his best to help other’s causes. His beliefs were strong and rigid. His faith in God saw him through many trials and uncomfortable situations, enabling him to grow in strength and stature. Truly a man to admire and of whom I was very proud.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Claudene and Raymon Stoker; two children Raymon Charles Stoker, III and Carole Camille Stoker.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carole; son Craig of Odessa, TX; daughter Cathleen and husband Adam, and their son Connor of Spring, TX; sister Betty Stoker Elliott of Fort Worth, TX; nephews Stephen Elliott of Dallas, TX; Stanley Elliott and wife Sarah, and their three children Davis, Graham, and Abbie of Richmond, VA. Ray is also survived by numerous cousins.
Honorary Pallbearers will be W.R. Bro Hill, Bill McCoy, Bob Fair, Rick Skillern, Ronald Crain, Ed Barham, Larry Bates, Tom Meek, Roy Hunt, Bill Massey, and Steve Thompson.
The family also would like to recognize the many hunting, fishing, and golfing friends from throughout the years, and everyone from the Shafer Law Firm. We would also like to thank the many medical professionals locally, statewide, and nationally for working diligently during his illness.
A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Odessa, Friday, September 7th at 3 p.m. Interment will take place at a private family ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the West Texas Food Bank, PO Box 4242, Odessa, TX 79761, or the Raymon Charles Stoker Sr. Memorial Golf Scholarship at Baylor University, Office of University Development, One Bear Place #97026, Waco, TX 76798-7026.
- Carole Stoker, Wife
- Craig Stoker, Son
- Cathleen and husband Adam and their son Connor, Daughter
- Betty Stoker Elliott, Sister
- Stephen Elliott, Nephew
- Stanley Elliott and wife Sarah and their three children Davis, Graham, and Abbie, Nephew
- Raymon Charles Stoker III, Son
- Carole Camille Stoker, Daughter
- Raymon Charles Stoker Sr, Father
- Claudene Stoker, Mother
- Ray is also survived by numerous cousins.
- W.R. Bro Hill, Honorary Pallbearer
- Bill McCoy, Honorary Pallbearer
- Bob Fair, Honorary Pallbearer
- Rick Skillern, Honorary Pallbearer
- Ronald Crain, Honorary Pallbearer
- Ed Barham, Honorary Pallbearer
- Larry Bates, Honorary Pallbearer
- Tom Meek, Honorary Pallbearer
- Roy Hunt, Honorary Pallbearer
- Bill Massey, Honorary Pallbearer
- Steve Thompson, Honorary Pallbearer
West Texas Food Bank
PO Box 4242, Odessa, Texas 79761
Raymon Charles Stoker Sr. Memorial Golf Scholarship at Baylor University,Office of University Development
One Bear Place #97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026
- Memorial Service Friday, September 7, 2018
Raymon Charles (Ray) Stoker Jr.
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September 7, 2018
He was the gentleman. I will always remember going to lunch with him and everyone calling him Mr. Stoker out of just sheer respect. He always opened the door for a lady and he was so humble. I remember mediating a case with him and he went home for lunch and brought me homemade tamales for my husband. He just was so fun and lovable, I will miss you Ray....I was always so proud to have you as my lawyer and a friend. I wish your family peace in knowing what a great man you were.
September 6, 2018
Sally, David, Jennifer, Michael and I have over the last several days shared many wonderful memories of our friends Ray and Carol. We talked about golf, fishing, exploring and great conversation. It was almost impossible for us to talk about Ray without including Carol.
Although Ray was involved in many organizations and causes, I knew him first and best as a Commissioner and Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. His passionate dedication to mobility in our state is legendary and it , along with his tenacity, persuasive ability and humor place Ray among the great statesmen of Texas. It was a great honor to work with Ray and be his friend. Although Ray is irreplaceable, we will carry on as best we can in his honor.
September 5, 2018
I have known Ray for many, many years. I had worked with him when I was employed years ago by Ranger Insurance and I have worked with him since being employed with Travelers Insurance.
He was a wonderful attorney, a great mentor and a friend. I will really miss the funny emails he would periodically send me. They always brightened my day. I will really miss talking shop with him. He had a unique way of looking at claims. He was a wonderful mentor. I will truly miss him!!!