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William Stratton Ray, Jr.

Died: January 26, 2016

Stratton, son of Ebba Rudie Ray and William Stratton Ray, came to Yale from Middletown, Connecticut. He attended Buckley High School in Hartford. At Yale he held both the Suisman Foundation and National Honor Society scholarships, and majored in English. He was a member of Pierson, and participated in the Pierson Players, the Arts Festival Committee, and the Yale Arts Festival (photography chairman). He also served in the Dwight Hall Tutoring program. He took a leave spring semester 1964, and graduated in 1967.

After briefly attending Columbia Law School, he began a distinguished career teaching languages, earning an Ed.D. from Columbia Teachers’ College in 1989. He then served as a DX language testing specialist at the U.N. and later taught English As a Second Language at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. As his daughter recorded in his obituary, “His colleagues and former pedagogy students remember the great sense of support they felt from him, and how his humor helped to ease the stress of standing up in front of a new class. He was a community builder- committed to connecting with students and learning their stories.”

In June 1970 Stratton married Virginia Ann Wright, whom he had met in Pittsburgh. They shared many adventures around the world and in 1992 adopted daughter Stephanie Wright Ray in Medellin, Colombia. After Virginia died from cancer in 1997, Stratton and Stephanie lived first in New York City, and then spent five wonderful years in the Quaker community in Monte Verde, Costa Rica. They returned to Salt Lake City so Stephanie could finish high school, and in 2012 moved to Northampton MA while Stephanie attended Mt. Holyoke College. Stratton died from kidney cancer January 26, 2016. A memorial service was held March 6 in Needham, MA. Stephanie concluded the obituary for her father with this moving statement:

“Wherever he lived, Stratton found ways to share his love of languages and music, teaching in his community, singing in choral groups, and taking private voice lessons. He will be remembered not only for his beautiful baritone voice but also for the sheer joy he found in singing music from Verdi to Hoagy Carmichael. Even at the end of life, he was testing out his breath and memory by singing a Puccini aria. His love of literature remained until the end as well; he and Stephanie were reading Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, and other classics together, with Stratton completing many lines from memory. Stratton was a remarkable father who opened the world to Stephanie and nurtured each community in which they lived. He touched innumerable lives with his kindness, wisdom, and wit.”