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Mary Helen Ray

1936 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Mary Helen Ray Obituary
Mary Helen Ayars Ray ("MH" to close friends and family), 80, of Wilmette, IL and Omena, MI passed away Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids from complications due to a stroke. Mary Helen was born Nov. 18, 1936 in Evanston, IL, the daughter of Stewart Vowell Ayars and Ruth (Marshall) Ayars. She spent every summer of her life in her favorite place on earth, Omena, MI at their family cottage. As a child, she enjoyed racing Penguin sailboats on Omena Bay and playing amongst the cherry orchards with friends who remained dear to her throughout her life. She attended Roycemore School (K-12) in Evanston, IL and was valedictorian of her high school class. Mary Helen graduated from Denison University in Granville, OH in 1958. At Denison, she earned the honor of Mortar Board and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, remaining strongly involved her entire life. On Dec. 19, 1959 in Evanston, IL she married her loving husband, John Henry Ray, who survives. John and Mary Helen met at the Harris Bank in Chicago where she worked in trust investments. After marriage, she taught fifth grade in Lake Forest, IL. They were loving, involved parents of three children. Mary Helen volunteered her time to her children's schools and activities, never missing a child's recital, Boy Scout event or performance. She devoted her life to her children, always encouraging them to reach their full potential, while providing an excellent example of a loving marriage. Mary Helen had a gift for reaching out to others, always including those who may have fallen on difficult times. She loved her family and always wanted to be a "fly on the wall" at every event, never missing a chance to make a new friend. Preservation of the woods she loved so much in Omena, MI was her legacy. She was one of a small group who created the Omena Woods Association, which has protected 135 acres of land from future development insuring this unique and beautiful place will remain unspoiled for generations to come. Mary Helen is survived by her devoted husband of fifty-seven years, John; her three children, Kevin Stewart (Karis) Ray, Michael John (Samantha) Ray, Linda Ruth (Mike) McKenzie; her grandchildren, Meghan, Elizabeth and Hannah Ray, Tatum Ray, Jack, Emily, Owen and Henry McKenzie; and her niece, Nancy Linn Goodman. She was preceded in death by her parents, by her sister Alice Ayars (John) Linn, and her nephew, Jeffrey Linn. Family graveside services at the Omena Hillcrest Cemetery, Omena, MI have been held. A celebration of Mary Helen's life will be held in Wilmette, IL on Saturday, November 4th at 3PM at the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette. Another celebration in Omena, MI in July 2018 will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Omena Woods Association, P.O. Box 55, Omena, MI 49674.
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Oct. 5, 2017
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