Dr. Uthman Ray Jr., doctor, activist

April 19, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Dr. Uthman Ray Jr., a prominent West Baltimore physician and civic activist, died Friday at University of Maryland Medical Center after a lengthy illness. The resident of Morgan Park was 64.

Known as "Doc," he had a family practice for 40 years on West North Avenue, where his patients included the affluent and the poor. At the time of his death, he also was medical director of Irvington Knolls Nursing Home.

"Ray was the physician to the who's who in politics, and it wasn't unusual to visit his office and see people who were not only high up in politics but also in education, business and labor," said state Sen. Larry Young, a friend for 20 years.

"He would tell people that he was simply a family physician and he used to say that 'as long as I have a quarter, I can help someone.' He never thought of himself as a honcho," Mr. Young said.

Dr. Ray's interest in medicine began when he was a child growing up on McCulloh Street in West Baltimore.

"He wanted to heal and help people get well, and this led him to pursue the study of medicine," said a son, Selwyn Ivan Ray of Baltimore.

"He was an advocate for causes of universal interest to all people, not just blacks," the son said.

"He liked helping people and wanted to change things and promote his principles of justice and fair play. He believed in the notion of the measure you give is the measure you get," he said.

"His death certainly makes our community much poorer and leaves a huge deficit in the health care community, especially for blacks," said George L. Russell, a lawyer who admired his friend's courage in "never yielding to his own illness."

"He treated 40 patients on the Friday before he died," Mr. Russell said.

Dr. Ray received more than 100 citations, proclamations and plaques for his work with medical organizations, and educational and community organizations.

Dr. Ray was deeply involved in Baltimore politics.

In 1968, he was appointed to the city Board of Recreation and Parks by then-Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, a position he held until 1982. He also was a member of the Baltimore City Jail Board.

"I was always impressed by him," said Mr. D'Alesandro, now a Baltimore lawyer, who described Dr. Ray as a "good ambassador of the city's black community and a strong civil rights supporter."

Educated in city schools, Dr. Ray was a 1947 graduate of Douglass High School and earned his bachelor's degree in 1951 from what now is Morgan State University. He earned his medical degree in 1955 from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., and completed his internship at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis.

He served in the Air Force from 1956 to 1959, and was second in command of the hospital at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He was discharged with the rank of captain in 1959.

Dr. Ray was a trustee and lifelong member of Union Baptist Church, where he was active in the church's outreach ministries. He was a member of the Prince Hall F. & A. Masons, Tuscan Lodge No. 90, Hiram Consistory No. 90, and Jerusalem Temple No. 4.

His many professional memberships included the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, the Baltimore City Medical Society, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, and the Monumental City Medical Society.

He served on the boards of Boys Town of Maryland, the American Diabetes Association, Maryland Affiliate Inc. and the Morgan Park Improvement Association, and he was a trustee of the Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum.

A memorial service for Dr. Ray was set for noon today at Union Baptist Church, 1217 Druid Hill Ave.

He also is survived by his wife of 45 years, the former Lelia E. Wyatt; two other sons, Uthman Ray III of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Kevin Marcus Ray of Los Angeles; two brothers, Randolph J. Long and Herbert C. Long, both of Baltimore; three sisters, Miriam R. Nicholas of Glen Burnie, Mildred Harper of Randallstown and Karen L. Lawrence of Baltimore; his stepmother, Eloise Ray of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Children First, c/o Union Baptist Church, 1217 Druid Hill Ave., Baltimore 21217.

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