ELLSWORTH — George M. Ray of Ellsworth died at home, surrounded by love and laughter, on March 28, 2017, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in Ellsworth on May 17, 1932, to John and Madeline Ray, George was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, neighbor, friend, mentor, plumber, bridge player and golfer, but most of all, a gentle man.
George graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1950 while working at Brookside Restaurant. He married his high school sweetheart, Betty Lou Griffin, in March of 1951 and soon began four years working at Watson’s Dry Cleaners before starting his career in plumbing. He apprenticed with his brother John in Florida then returned to Maine, obtained his plumbing license, and went to work for Babson and Duffy in Blue Hill.
Work for George was a passion. In 1957, he started Ray Plumbing Co. in the 1841 vintage home he and his wife, Betty, still share on the Bayside Road. Later, as business grew, Ray Plumbing moved to different locations and now resides off High Street. While growing his plumbing business, he was always looking for other opportunities. Over the years he also owned a gas station, a driving range, a golf course, a golf camp, a cement block plant, a Dairy Queen, four Laundromats, several rental properties and was a partner in RHS Oil (Hancock Oil).
Another passion of George’s was his commitment and service to community and professional organizations. He was a member of Rotary since 1966 and received the Paul Harris Fellows Award in 2003. He served as president and was involved in many special projects. In 1967, he became involved with the Maine State Golf Association, serving on its board and running Saturday tournaments throughout eastern Maine. He was a member and president of the Maine Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association and received the Man of the Year Award. He was a member of the National PHCC and served on the Energy Conservation Task Force from 1980-82. He was actively involved with the YMCA board for many years, taking the position of chairman on multiple occasions. George was determined that there should be a fully functional Y facility for the youth of the Ellsworth Area. In 1990, as chairman once again, he was there to welcome all. He was a member and past president of the Chamber of Commerce and the recipient of the Top Drawer Award in 1990. He was a member of the Maine Plumbers Examining Board (1985-1990) and served as chairman 1989-90. He was a director emeritus and golf tournament director of the Ellsworth Alumni Association. He was in the Ellsworth Garden Club and could be seen in his later years mowing and tending to the garden at the Donald Little Park.
George is survived by his loving wife, Betty, of 66 years, his son George and wife, Carole (Willey), daughter Jayne Wixon and husband, David, son Daniel and fiancée Nadine Burgess, son Tim and wife, Danielle (Genter), and daughter Dawna Archer and husband, Earle, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful caregivers at Beacon Hospice for making it possible for George to remain at home. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in George’s memory be made to one of his favorite organizations: Beacon Hospice, 389 State St., Bangor, ME 04401; Down East Family YMCA, 238 State St., Ellsworth, ME 04605; Ellsworth High School Alumni, George Ray Scholarship, P.O. Box 11, Ellsworth, ME 04605 or The Ellsworth Garden Club, c/o Judith Povich, P.O. Box 722, Ellsworth, ME 04605.
There will be a celebration of life at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 15, at the Lamoine Baptist Church, 24 Lamoine Beach Road, Lamoine.