Bertha Ellen Ray
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On March 28, 2013, Bertha Ellen Ray, 92, a lifetime resident of Redlands, slipped away from her earthly family to reunite with her Heavenly one. Bertha was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 61 ½ years, John "Wesley" Ray, and her precious children John W. Ray Jr., Norman C. Ray and Andrea E. McManis and granddaughter Rachel D. Fritz. She is survived by her daughter Claudia G. Gray of Tempe, AZ; 12 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren, to whom she brought great joy.
Bertha was born to Noah and Lola Miller Bryan on July 16, 1920 in Redlands. She found her soul mate and partner-for-life at the tender age of 16, when she wed John "Wesley" Ray, of Redlands, on August 8, 1936. Together they owned and operated a pipeline contracting business for over 60 years. When her husband served an 18 month tour of duty overseas in WWII, she kept the business not only running, but profitable; while at the same time raising two young sons and managing the household, until Wesley's return from war in 1945. Bertha also enjoyed being Wesley's co-pilot, in the air as well as in life, in their Cessna aircraft. The two had many fun flying-adventures together, including, in their later years, owning a second home in Gonzaga Bay, Baja California Mexico; where they would land their plane on a sandy airstrip, and spend time enjoying nature and the company of friends from the San Gorgonio Aero Club, to which they belonged.
Bertha was truly the heart of her family, raising four children and enjoying many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who adore her. She bravely and lovingly took care of her husband during his battle with Cancer, and in the years since his passing, has forged her own courageous journey, living out her last 11 years with Alzheimer's. She continued, through her illness, to maintain her laughter, patience and kind-nature; truly setting an example of loving strength for those she leaves behind.
A "Celebration of Life" for the family members who remain will be held in late-summer 2013, to honor and memorialize both Bertha, and her beloved husband, Wesley.
Published in Redlands Daily Facts on May 1, 2013