Mr. George Victor Ray


Born: Clinchco, Va (Dickenson County) to Fuller and Vera Ray. George is the oldest of four siblings.

George was educated in Virginia and continued on to Swift Memorial College (High School/College) combined. Growing up in a mining town offered little opportunity for George. Having lost his father at an early age George became responsible to help his mother support the family. He worked in the coal mines for a short while and as soon as the opportunity presented itself he boarded a train headed for New York City.

Upon arrival in New York he prayed asking God to direct and guide him. As a young man he was filled with dreams and ambition. No work was beneath him. He was determined to make a success of his life.

Getting off at Penn Station, NYC George followed a large crowd of people boarding a downtown "A" train to Brooklyn. Again following the crowd he got off at Franklin Avenue and Fulton Street. Still seeking God's guidance he asked where he might get housing and was fortunate to meet a landlady who was from a nearby town in Virginia. Now having a place to stay, he immediately sought employment.

Work was not hard to find during those times so he often worked two and three jobs at a time.

George was blessed to meet Mary Helen Bank; who also lived where he found boarding. Mary was also ambitious. They united in marriage July 1944 in Bristol, VA.

Desiring to own a hardware store was a lofty dream, but sacrifice, patience, persistence hard work and answered prayer brought Ray's Cut Rate Hardware into being, serving the Bedford Stuyvesant Community for 39 years. He was the first black man to open a hardware store in NYC.

The marriage was blessed with four children; Barbara Ann, George Jr., Portia and Hope. George Jr. and Hope are deceased.

George was blessed materially in this life with everything he desired except a horse. (houses, cars, boats, motorcycles, land)

More importantly George gave his life to Jesus Christ and experienced his greatest joy in serving and helping people.

George's motto; Be slow to anger quick to forgive, that's the best way to live.

George was a dutiful husband whose aim in marriage was to please his wife. After 39 years of service, Mary decided that Bristol, Va was where she wanted to return for retirement. They built a five bedroom house with recreation room, swimming pool and gazebo. They moved in in 1984. Together they enjoyed approximately 12 years in the home before Mary passed away.

Since her passing George has faithfully maintained the property. God who knows the end from the beginning could not have allowed George to retire in a more perfect location. Family, friends, and neighbors are always ready to respond immediately to every need.

On coming to Bristol, Va. George served for 8 years as Commissioner of Housing, he has been recognized as "Man of the Year" at Lee Street Baptist Church. He was granted notable citations from the president of the Borough of Brooklyn.

He leaves to mourn his passing, his two daughters: Barbara Ray Francis, and Portia Miles; two granddaughters: Ms. Kemba Francis, and Ms. Novella Francis; one grandson: Tray Miles; two great-grandchildren: Sianni Bowman and Qualantray Bowman; one sister: Ms. Hazel Gibbs; one brother: Mr. Marcel Ray; special friends: Doris Green, Glen and Glen Hempstead, Mr. Marshall Buchanan, and Joey Taylor; and a host of nieces nephews, church family, and friends.

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