Thomas Strongbear Ray of DeSoto, KS passed away peacefully on Monday night, February 6, 2023, with his wife and members of his family by his side.
Thomas was born to Violet Lorene Bain on August 9, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is survived by his beloved wife of 25 years, Cynthia Yulich Ray and his devoted younger brother, Paul Shepherd (Kathryn) of New Whiteland, IN. Tom had very special relationships with his children and grandchildren. Regardless of whether they were biological or step, he felt each was his own and deeply loved them all. He is also survived by his children, Patrick Ray (Momoko) Grandchild: Elizabeth, Carolyn “Carrie” Ray Weinhold (Matthew). In addition, he is survived by son Louis Aubrey (Laura), grandchildren Alexander Latham, Stormy Ford, Mekenzi Hamby, Xavier Aubrey, Sophia Aubrey and Kelton Ford, daughter Kimberlee Aubrey (Joshua Mitchell) grandson Ethaniel Aubrey-Mitchell, Evynn Aubrey-Mitchell (deceased), daughter Lisa Palmer (Roger), grandchildren Evelynn, Ariah, Helaina and Ana, son Geoffrey Aubrey (Jessica Guillermo), grandsons Thatcher Aubrey, Vann Aubrey, Alex Guillermo, Eric Guillermo, and Marcello Guillermo. He leaves a veritable army of loved ones including his best friends, Richard and sister-in-law Vivian West who also stand in mourning and gratefulness.
As a young child he independently found and became a member of Winter Avenue Church of the Nazarene in Indianapolis, IN. Tom’s spirituality brought joy to many through his faith, introspection, compassion, and wisdom. He enjoyed the philosophical questions of existence, which he explored through his personal experiences and academic education and career. Tom referred to himself as a Christian Buddhist, and left with us a legacy of unwavering love, acceptance, philosophical wonder, Christian compassion, and his thoughtful Buddhist teachings.
He held a Bachelor’s of Philosophy (Olivet College of The Nazarene), Master of Divinity (St. Paul’s School of Theology) and Master of Social Work (University of Kansas) and spent the whole of his career serving others. Initially, he served others in his community as a Methodist minister, and later as a licensed social worker and therapist primarily in the state of Arkansas. Many benefited from his philosophical, thought-provoking ideas regarding spirituality, purpose, and personal healing.
Tom enlisted in the United States Air Force at age 19 and served from 1971-1977. While stationed at the U-Tapao Airforce Base in Thailand during the Vietnam War, he continued to wait for God to call him to service; A call that he had waited for since childhood but felt had not yet come. At U-Tapao he realized he did not have to wait for a literal call from God, but that his passion to service others was God given. When Tom returned from the Vietnam War, he enrolled in seminary school.
Tom was a passionate lover of nature, and along with his wife Cindy and best friends, Vivian and Richard West, enjoyed many days of camping and fly fishing. Tom also took great pleasure in sharing his outdoor skills with others, especially the grandchildren. He was also an avid moviegoer with great knowledge and affection for all things related to the classics of the silver screen and modern cinema. He imparted this love of movies to his two children, who now carry on his enthusiasm for the fine art of filmmaking. His personality reflected his love for performing, as he was always the funniest, goofiest, and arguably most charming person at the table, and was always ready for a good laugh.
Tom treasured all gifts that life had to offer. He enjoyed diverse genre in music including blue grass, country, show tunes, classics, old rock, jazz, and Christian music. He was an ice-cream connoisseur; Nothing came between him and a good slice of apple pie with a huge dollop of ice cream!
Thomas Strongbear Ray, husband, father, (daddy), brother, Papa, and friend. May you rest in peace, surrounded by our love and safely cradled in the light and energy of God and the Universe. May your memory, lessons, and love carry us through all the rest of our days. We miss you, until we meet again.
Celebration of Life for Tom to be held on May 27th, 2023 at 1:30 PM at Cedar Crest Memorial Chapel, 32665 Lexington Ave. De Soto, KS 66018