Frederick M. Ray, 87

Church organist

July 13, 2008|By Melissa Harris

Frederick Malcolm Ray, who led choirs and played the organ at churches across the region, died July 6 of Alzheimer's disease at Arden Courts, a care facility in Pikesville.

The former Social Security Administration employee and chaplain's assistant in the Navy was 87.

Mr. Ray was born the 11th of 13 children in Carthage, N.C. World War II interrupted his undergraduate studies at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.

After serving in the States, he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1952 from what was then Morgan State College and in 1973, a professional certificate in social work from the University of Maryland.

In addition to SSA, he worked for the Social Services departments in Washington and Baltimore, where he enjoyed helping senior citizens, his daughter, Sheila Ray Wiggins of Baltimore, said. He was the organist at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Baltimore, his home church, and played for at least three other churches in the region.

" 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' was one of his favorite songs," Ms. Wiggins said. "He was a classical music buff. He only tolerated rock 'n' roll when I came along."

Mr. Ray's wife, Hypatha Aquilla Sanders, died in 1970. They had four children, but Ms. Wiggins was the only one to survive past age 2, she said.

After retiring from social work in 1983, Mr. Ray volunteered as a job counselor at Genesis Jobs in Baltimore. He was a charter member of the Breakfast Optimist Club of Westside Baltimore and served as secretary/treasurer for many years, Ms. Wiggins said.

He enjoyed talking politics on the phone with his old friends from the Navy and going to Orioles games at Memorial Stadium. At the time Alzheimer's began to set in, he was working on his family tree and attempting to contact descendants of the owners of his great-grandparents, who were slaves.

Mr. Ray also is survived by a granddaughter.

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