Passion in action
Bill and Lawretta Ray have spent their lives serving their community
Between the two, Bill and Lawretta Ray's list of life-long accomplishments share one constant theme-they followed their heart and their passion, and they worked for the greater good of others.
Now retired, but not close to being too tired to let that passion go, they are both on the Estacada Library Foundation Board. They bring with them extensive success in organizing and the desire to participate in the community they live in. Individually and together, they help create community by steeping themselves in it.
Bill was born in Chiloquin, Ore., in 1943. When he was 13 months old, he and his siblings moved to Estacada to live with Isabel and Ernest Duus, who were foster parents. The Duus' three biological children were grown at the time. This was a second family for Ernest and Isabel, who raised the children on their 160-acre homestead farm.
'Life on the farm was a source of adventure,' Bill said. 'There were animals to help tend, gardens to water and weeds to pull. Dad used to make butter, sourkraut, and applesauce from our farm. I remember the prune and walnut orchards as being so delicious. We would take the prunes to the neighbors to be dried, and pick up the walnuts and dry them near the wood stove.'
Bill graduated from Estacada High School in 1961, where he sang in the choir, performed on stage in theater productions, and attended school dances. 'It was during the days of rock and roll,' he said.
In 1967 Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served until 1970. 'I was stationed in Germany during my time. So many were sent to Viet Nam from Germany and never returned home,' he said. 'It is true today, so many lives are taken.'
He earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary education from the University of Oregon, then continued with graduate studies at Oregon State University.
While in college Bill decided to work in the field of Indian education. He taught at the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, and worked with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health board as a health careers counselor.
The following decades of Bill's life were filled with working with organizations that focused on Oregon Indians and tribes, including the Oregon Commission on Indian Services, the Oregon Historical Society, Northwest Indian Veterans Association, the Portland Art Museum's Native American Art Council, and the Geographic Names Board, which recently worked to develop a process to identify and delete derogatory Indian names from sites in Oregon.
In 1985 Bill married Eleanor Houghton Anderson at the former Estacada United Methodist Church. She died in 1990. He met Lawretta during the Dorchester convention, an annual Republican party retreat held in Seaside, in 1995. After the convention, he came home to Estacada, where he lived part-time in the house he built on 28-acres of his family's farm. Lawretta traveled to China. When she returned to her home in Portland six weeks later, they contacted each other and discovered a shared love of music and art, and a desire to work for what they valued in life.
From small town,
to big town,
to small town
Lawretta was born in Gold Beach, a small town just north of the California border on the Oregon Coast. She was an only child, named after her father, Lawrence, and her mother, Etta Goudy. Her parents owned and operated the local grocery store and post office-her mother served as the town postmaster, and her father delivered mail and groceries by boat on the Rogue River.
Even at a young age, Lawretta was heavily involved in her community. When she was 14 years old she was the secretary for the local fire department. She learned that living in a small town means doing your part. 'Growing up in a small town was fun,' she said. 'I always thought of it as a small version of a large town. You learn your people skills, most of your values.'
She breezed through high school, graduating early with the class of 1953, then went on to major in education at Oregon State University. She graduated when she was 19, and in 1956 she married John Morris.
Lawretta was a teacher at David Douglas High School and Mt. Hood Community College throughout the 1960s and 70s. She raised two sons with Morris, David and Doug, and worked as the executive director for the Oregon Republican Party from 1984 until 1986 while owning and operating the family business, Goudy Land Company.
In 1985 Lawretta became a member of the Portland Planning Commission, which she chaired for four of the seven years she served. During her time on the commission, they set up the zoning for the Pearl District, created the theater district in Downtown Portland and saved the historic Portland sign that still adorns the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Broadway. She played a part in the light rail planning, and went to Sacramento, Calif., to research the light rail system there.
'I love Portland,' she said. 'I think its handling its growth well, and I like the activity, the shopping, Pioneer Square, the fountain-things like that are tourist attractions as well as being enjoyed by it's citizens.'
In 1994 Lawretta's husband, John, died. She sold Goudy Land Company and continued to live in Portland.
interests and passions
After the Seaside convention, in 1995 Bill and Lawretta were both eager to share their passion for life and what they believed in. They married in 1998.
An enrolled member of the Klamath Indian Tribes, Bill introduced Lawretta to his world of Indian culture. Together they founded Indian Art Northwest, an annual Memorial Day weekend event that attracted more than 200 Native artists. She became the development director of the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians, where she worked to improve tribal tourism.
They also shared a love of music, and from 2001 to 2005 were both members of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Oregon District Auditions. They continue their involvement through the Portland Opera Guild.
They had homes in both Portland and Estacada, but officially made Estacada their single residence in 2004. Lawretta was already involved with the community; in 2003 she became a member of the Estacada Library Foundation, which was working on plans for the construction of the new library.
'I have a philosophy that when a door opens, you should take a good look and probably go through it,' Lawretta said.
Living in Estacada has been like coming home for her. For Bill, it is the place that he knew he would return to. 'I do not feel like I ever left,' he said, 'even though I have lived in other places.'
'I have a fondness for Estacada,' Lawretta said. 'There's a willingness to commit to tough projects, such as funding a new library.'
Now retired, both Bill and Lawretta enjoy the city life of Portland, and the small town life of Estacada. They look forward to continuing their work with the library, and using their life experiences as Estacada evolves over time.