Owen M. Ray Sr., 63, founded bus tour firm, ran 2 city gas stations

June 21, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Owen M. Ray Sr., owner and founder of Sun Ray Motor Tours, died June 14 of heart failure at Sinai Hospital. He was 63 and lived in Randallstown.

Since 1994, Mr. Ray, former owner of several Baltimore Amoco service stations, had operated a tour bus company that transported Georgetown University students and was available for charter and East Coast tours.

A gregarious man who arranged tours and drove the silver, burgundy and light blue Blue Bird motor coach, Mr. Ray was known for his commentary that highlighted roadside points of interest.

Mr. Ray developed a love for the open road while taking his family on cross-country vacations in a Cadillac Brougham.

"He loved to drive, and as he said, `Relax it,'" said his wife of 35 years, the former Sandra Dennis, who said her husband arranged tours for private and church groups to such places as Connecticut, Atlantic City, N.J. and Myrtle Beach, S.C. "He really enjoyed his work."

In 1971, Mr. Ray, who had been staff manager for seven years with the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Co. in Baltimore, purchased and operated several Amoco stations in Northwest Baltimore.

"I recruited him and put him in business," said Harold G. Reid, former Amoco Oil Co. area sales representative, and now Baltimore County northwest sector coordinator for Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "He was a family man and very personable, and to me they were the sort of credentials of someone who could successfully be in business for himself. He was willing to work long hours and was always pleasant."

He said Mr. Ray "was the kind of man who took chances on people. He wanted to help those who needed help."

Even after a late-night robbery attempt in the 1970s in which he was shot, Mr. Ray seemed almost unfazed. "He didn't harbor any bad feelings toward the robber, and only said he wasn't going to give [the robber] his hard-earned money," said Mr. Reid.

In 1993, Mr. Ray sold Park Circle Amoco and Druid Park Amoco, and a year later established his tour bus business.

Born in Algoma, W.Va., Mr. Ray graduated from Park Central High School in Bluefield, W.Va., and attended then-Morgan State College. Drafted into the Army, he served as a mechanic in Germany and was discharged in 1964.

Mr. Ray enjoyed attending family gatherings and playing the slot machines in Atlantic City.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Macedonia Baptist Church, 718 W. Lafayette Ave., Baltimore.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Owen M. Ray Jr. and Darren Maurice Ray, both of Randallstown; a brother, James R. Ray of Baltimore; two sisters, Rose R. Hawkins of Virgilina, Va., and Shirley Ray Wilson of Durham, N.C.; his stepmother, Doris Buckner Ray of Durham, N.C.; and many nephews and nieces.

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