In Memoriam

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Ray Ownbey ’66

June 22, 2018, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ray and his twin sister were born in Portland. After graduating from Gresham High School in 1954, he volunteered for military service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and became a staff photographer, stationed in Hawaii. Following his service, Ray completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon, got his master’s degree in teaching from Reed, and then earned a PhD in English from the University of Utah. Ray taught literature, writing, and communications in high school, then at the University of Utah, the University of Hawaii, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where he also served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for 10 years. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, ShruDeLi, continued to travel. He led student and alumni study tours to Europe and taught the writing component of an Italian photography tour. Ray made pottery; pursued his interests in music, reading, writing, photography, architectural design, and family history; and volunteered with Salt Lake County’s Department of Aging Services.

When he was in his late 70s and battling interstitial lung disease, leukemia, and heart disease, he and his wife decided to keep creating a future by designing and building a new, smaller house off the grid with geothermal and solar power. It was a contribution they felt they could make to the environment. They shared several years in the new house, where Ray died peacefully with ShruDeLi at his side. She survives him, as do his son, Micah Ownbey, and his sister, Fay Ownbey Ligon. To the end, despite his health struggle, he maintained his irreverent sense of humor and lack of bitterness. He donated his body to the University of Utah’s donor program in the hope that others will benefit from medical researc

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2018

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