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"His hearty presence, his merry laugh, his keen eye, the strong, clear tones of his voice-all these still are with us, but these are not the man, and when they have grown dim and faint, there shall still remain clear and shining in our hearts the character and soul, that elusive spiritual essence, which no pen can describe, but which never loses its power and individuality. While he lived hearts loved him, weak spirits trusted him, strong souls recognized him, the world about him felt his power. Now that he is gone, it remains only to put in words this love and recognition, and to leave the record for those who knew him not."
"Mr. Ray was a man who was possessed, like most men, of certain eccentricities, to which one had to become accustomed; but he grew immensely upon his pupils and upon the community, and the esteem in which he came to be held was well witnessed at the time of his death."
"We have recorded but one death, W. H. Ray. Yonder memorial window is not more beautiful than the life it commemorates, both beautiful in service. We miss him everywhere, so do multitudes of others, but the Master had need of such a finished workman to build up the everlasting Kingdom."
Though today most Hyde Parkers know nothing about the man for whom the school was named, it is clear from the tributes at the time of his death that here was a man who had made a great impact on the community in the relatively short period of years when he lived here. The records of the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church state that 700 people attended his memorial service on September 8, 1889.
Mr. Ray was born in a small New England village. His father
was a minister who had been raised on a farm and then attended
Dartmouth College and Andover Seminary. "The boy William
grew up in narrow surroundings and in the midst of hard work;
but having always about him the pure atmosphere of a genuine
home, where love for good and high things prevailed, where tender
hearts and their aspirations were cherished and encouraged, where
strict integrity and uprightness were the rule, and where Christian
courtesy and gentleness softened and brightened all the home
William H. Ray and his wife Martha H. Ray joined the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church on February 29, 1884, by transfer from the First Presbyterian Church of Waukegan. They had a baby boy, Duncan, who was born April 14, 1884 and baptized at the Hyde Park church on November 2, 1884. This child died on August 29, 1885 and is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery. They also had a daughter, Margaret, who was born December 16, 1887 and lived to adulthood. She was confirmed and received into full communion at the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church on December 2, 1896. The family lived at 5316 South Jefferson (now Harper). He was the principal of Hyde Park High School and the assistant Superintendent of the Sabbath School of the Hyde Park church. He was a trustee of the church in 1889 when the present building was constructed on the corner of East 53rd Street and Blackstone Avenue. After his death on July 3, 1889, the students in the Sabbath School raised the money to install a memorial window in his honor in the fellowship hall of the church. The window is inscribed with his name and the simple motto "Service." The room is now officially called the "William H. Ray Fellowship Hall."
Mrs. Ray remained in Hyde Park until the early 1900s. Her name appears in the church directory of 1900, residing at 5312 Madison (now Worcester). She is not listed in the next available directory, date 1904.
Mr. Ray, his wife, and infant son Duncan are buried at Oak Woods Cemetery, in a plot on Magnolia Road, not far from the grave site of Mayor Harold Washington.
Gilchrist, Mrs. J. F. "Historical Address," Fiftieth Anniversary, Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, 1910.
"History of the Hyde Park High School," Yearbook of Hyde Park High School, 1893.
Registry of Members. Hyde Park Presbyterian Church.
Thurston, Charlotte S. "In Memory of William Henry Ray." Yearbook of Hyde Park High School, 1893.
Main | our building | who we are | historic buildings | churches | Hyde Park History | monuments | parks | newsletters-The Big Wheel | HP Presbyterian Church | Tarzan | Ferriswheel | Paul Nitze | Ray