Ray died peacefully at home with his wife and children by his side on October 17, 2015, after living with prostate cancer for more than 12 years.
Ray was born in Hurst, GA, on February 26, 1940 to Katie Lou (Butts) and James Guy Crawford. His parents, older brother James Randall, and nephew Eddie preceded him in death. Ray leaves his adoring wife of 46 years, Jana (Franklin), son Scott (Courtney Stacks), daughter Emily (Chad Cygan), sweet granddaughter Daphne Isabel, and her soon-to-be-born little sister. He also leaves sisters-in-law Carmen Crawford and Marsha Fisher, brother-in-law Bob Fisher, nieces and nephews Guy, Wade, and Shannon Fisher, Kelly Gutowski, Karen and Steve Crawford, Deanna Hamilton, and their families. In addition, Ray leaves the extended family of Joan, Phil, Bill, and Bob Brower and Linda Luce, his aunt Nola Woody, and so many friends who have blessed his life.
Ray lived his life in Stow and Akron, where he graduated from Hower High School in 1958. He loved sports and played basketball, baseball, and football at Hower, and as quarterback Ray led his team to the City Finals Championship Game in 1957. He also received his senior class Manhood Award and was President of Student Council.
Ray attended The College of Wooster on a football scholarship, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in Education. Though several professional football teams invited him to tryouts, he chose to begin his teaching career in Akron. Ray later attended the University of Akron and graduated in 1971 with an M.A. in Biology while concurrently working toward a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology at Kent State University. It was there that he met and wooed Jana, whom he married on August 9, 1969.
Ray taught many subjects in the Akron Public School system, including Biology, Advanced Placement Biology, and Man and Disease, a course he designed. His career spanned several schools including Innes and Roswell Kent junior high schools and Kenmore High School. Ray also taught at Kent State University and concluded his 40-year teaching career by tutoring at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. His coaching resume included wrestling and Akron’s first and only junior high football team (Innes) where he coached Gary Pinkel, current head coach for the University of Missouri’s football team. At Kenmore, Ray coached golf for 15 years, leading the 2002 team to win the City Series Championship. He was named Coach of the Year in both 1996 and 2002, and he was Kenmore’s Teacher of the Year in 2002.
Ray was a member of the United Methodist Church in Stow and the Stow Lions Club. He also was an avid golfer, played slow-pitch softball, was an Ohio State and College of Wooster sports fan, and self-taught handyman.
Friends and family will remember Ray’s strong and gentle personality, his quick smile and warm hugs, his fun-loving sense of humor, his special connection with children, and his selfless devotion to those he loved. He was a gift to so many. We miss him so much.