In Memory

Nancy Lee Ray

Nancy Lee Ray

Nancy Lee Ray

18 Oct 1954 in Wichita, Kansas - 10 Aug 1979 in New York (Manhattan), New York


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09/02/22 09:39 AM #1    

Karen Lynne Sorensen

Dear Nancy,


I really need to... have to write a memorial dedicated to you. Our 50th West High School reunion is in only a couple of weeks. Yes, waiting to take care of this task sounds inexcusable, but have you taken a look down here lately? I’m downsizing pointless stuff; a lot of it! It could be, though, I’m procrastinating on confronting other things. Name one?


I don’t want to write your memorial. It is as hard as I thought it was going to be. On the simple side of the task, all I want to say is how much I miss you after all these years. You were taken far too soon, just a few years after our high school graduation. You were among the first in our class to part celestially. The only rationale that can explain it, perhaps, is that Heaven must have really needed you at the time.


Maybe it’s the splendid job you did as editor of our yearbook that made you shine and got you noticed behind the scenes upstairs. The hidden mechanical story in producing our timeless product ranged from obsessing with grammar, improving sentences for readability, keeping an eye for detail while spotting inconsistencies, to more extraverted activities such as educating and encouraging your small staff.


A basic reason for you taking on this challenge, however, was that you wanted others to succeed. With deep passion, you respected each and every member of our class. Empathy and good judgement? You had that. You loved that you helped our class and generation positively contemplate their uniqueness. You didn’t have an ego.


At the time of your departure, you were only one week from starting law school at the University of Kansas. You were a petite, lovely, and rather reserved lady. In high school, I never pictured you as an aggressive Perry Mason in a courtroom. But with retrospect, I fancy you would have continued to use your distinctive intelligence to become a strong, fundamental influence in our society as an editor of a prominent law journal.


Speaking of legal cases and the positive upside they can have, your parents sued the city of New York and won their case. You were standing in a long line to purchase tickets to a Broadway attraction when that freak storm blew swiftly into the city. It made national news. The city is now accountable for diligently trimming all trees in Central Park so that no one else suffers the loss of a Nancy in their lives.


What’s a true friend? In my case, you were with your open-minded, non-judgmental, respectful acceptance of both my strengths and weaknesses, plus your straight-forward honesty and fearless, constructive advice, whether I asked for it or not. The lasting memory of my good fortune to have known you for even a relatively short time has pulled me through difficult times and will continue to do so.


So, Nancy, how do I wrap up this heartfelt letter and memorial I’m sharing with our class of 1972? Let’s flip the old advice about living each day as if it were our last. Instead, live each day positively as if it is our first. Wasn’t that one of your intentions for all of us?


Sincerely and with love,


09/03/22 01:56 PM #2    

Carolyn Hatcher (Gigstad)

Oh Karen!! That brings tears to my eyes!! What an absolutely beautiful tribute to Nancy! I get it about how it still hurts after all of these years. I lost one of my best friends the summer after our sophomore year. David Witherspoon. Both tragedies with 2 young lives full of promise cut down way, way too soon! But  I look forward to a glorious reunion in Heaven! We'll raise a toast to Nancy, David and the rest of the classmates we've lost and be thankful they came into our lives, even if for a short time! See you soon!

09/03/22 03:58 PM #3    

Lori Russell (Chism)

This brought tears to my eyes as well. Nancy and I had a lot of history from school, to church and in journalism. I have the best pics of her and I talking life and philosophy in riverside park. Probably when we should have been in school. She was one of a kind. I was living in Montana when I got the news of her accident and was devastated. Well done, Karen. You have shared what many of us felt. The 50th will be amazing as well as our reunions in heaven. God bless you

09/03/22 04:51 PM #4    

Julie Hurst (Wade)

I remember so well the day when I heard about Nancy's passing and the circumstances around her death. First of all, she was all set for KU Law School and all set to show the world that strength and might do come in small packages. She was a gentle soul who was taken from us far too soon. 

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