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Shirley's Story

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Shirley Ann (McDonald) Ray unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, May 28, 2017, at her home in Santa Clara, CA.

Shirley--or Sam, as she was known more recently to friends and family--was born on July 4, 1934, in a dugout house near Alva, Oklahoma. She was the youngest child of Charles Irvan and Florence Georgina (Tidwell) McDonald.

Shirley married William J. (Bill) Ray, of Rosston, OK, on May 30, 1953, in Clayton, NM. They built their lives together, initially teaching and attending Northwestern Oklahoma State College (University) in Alva in their summers and spare time. She taught on reservations in South Dakota with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as at a variety of schools in Oklahoma. She received her BA in Education in 1959. She moved to Stillwater in 1967.

One child, Kevin William, was born in 1957 and passed soon after. In 1968, Shirley gave birth to Eric Jeffrey Ray.

After her husband Bill passed away on December 6, 1977, Shirley built a new life around raising her son and around her job at the Oklahoma State University Federal Credit Union, where she was the keystone anchoring the organization for many years.

In 1991, Sam re-encountered Howard Dickson, a family friend from her early college years, and they fell in love. She moved to Santa Clara, CA, and married Howard on April 23, 1993. For many years, she shared Howard's life, traveling and learning to enjoy Little League baseball games nearly as much as Howard. She attended something over 1600 games watching Howard umpire over the years.

Sam devoted her life to caring for her loved ones, in every way she could imagine. She showed her love through cooking, sewing, and hundreds of thoughtful gestures, large and small.

A telling example is that she happily typed Bills dissertation (all drafts and the final copies)despite the fact that the dissertation was written in Spanish, and she spoke not a word of Spanish. Another is how she eagerly collaborated with her grandchildren in the kitchen to help them learn to cook and to share her love of the process with them. Yet another is how she would invariably have tiny and thoughtful gifts for her loved ones at just the right time.

She is survived by her husband, Howard V. Dickson, of the home in Santa Clara, California; her son, Eric J. Ray, of Westminster, Colorado, as well as her adored grandchildren Ashleigh Sarah Ray and Alexander William Ray. She is survived by Howard's children, Joy, Mark, and Neil Dickson, as well as his 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren, who brought great happiness to her life. She is also survived by her oldest sister, Juanita Dunlap, of Loveland, Colorado, and a large number of nieces, nephews, and others who treasured her presence. Her parents, Charles Irvan and Florence Georgina McDonald, pre-deceased her, as did her sister Lorene Eason, brother Marvin, brothers Wilbert and Delbert, and brother R.J McDonald.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Habitat for Humanity.

After cremation, Sam will be interred next to Bill, her first husband, in Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater, OK. No services are planned.
Published on June 6, 2017
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