Sequim man, former Alaska lawmaker, dies at 91

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SEQUIM — Bill Ray spent more than 60 years in Alaska, from tending the family bar and liquor stores to being a popular state lawmaker, before retiring to Sequim so he could golf year-round.

Ray, 91, died Monday only five months after he published a paperback book on golf called The Hacker’s Bible.

The book endorsed in golfing prose a lifetime for what many in Alaska recalled Ray: his positive thinking and good nature.

“To become a good golfer, certain techniques must be studied, learned and performed,” Ray wrote in The Hacker’s Bible.

“Sit first and relax. Take the time to read what this book says about playing golf.

“Then go out and do it: End up satisfied and playing the real game of golf!”

Although born in Montana, he and his family moved to Alaska when he was a teenager.

Following Navy service during World War II, he returned to the future 49th State to work in the family’s downtown Juneau bar as well as fish commercially.

Ray went on to open several liquor stores and a charter boat service in Juneau.

Following Alaska statehood, he was appointed to the state Liquor Control Board for five years.

From there, the Democrat served 22 years in the state Legislature before retiring from public office in 1986.

“He was running unopposed,” Ray’s daughter, Terry Ray Shattuck, told the Juneau Empire.

“People loved him so much because he did a lot for Juneau and for the state, so there was really no competition.”

He was a powerful advocate for Juneau as Alaska’s capital, the Empire wrote in an obituary this week, as well as an influential state senator whose projects included securing funding for construction of some of the city’s major landmarks.

A University of Alaska building in Juneau is named the Bill Ray Center in his honor.

After retirement, he wrote his first book, collecting his Alaskan memoirs in Liquor, Legislation & Laughter: The story of an S.O.B. (Sweet Old Bill).

Ray is survived by his second wife, Nancy Ray of Sequim; his daughter and son-in-law, Terry Ray Shattuck and Roger Shattuck of Alaska; his son and daughter-in-law, Bill C. Ray and Jutta Eming of Germany; and three grandchildren.

No services are planned.

Last modified: September 13. 2013 9:27AM
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