Larry Dale Ray

Larry Dale Ray, (65), of Franklin, TN formerly of Maumelle, AR and Vevay, IN, was born on March 11, 1958, at King’s Daughters Hospital in Madison, IN. He was the son of William R. (“Bill”) Ray and Dorothy Evelyn Craig Ray and was the youngest of nine children. Growing up in Switzerland County, IN, Larry spent most of his time working the fields of his family’s tobacco and dairy farm in Vevay. When not hard at work, Larry enjoyed hunting and fishing with his older brothers and playing ball with friends. Like many people in farming families, this dedication to hard work would become a standard in his everyday life. Larry’s talent on the baseball diamond was evident throughout his youth where he played for Switzerland County’s varsity baseball team. During his senior year, Larry’s team won the ORVC conference championship by going undefeated. Larry graduated high school with a .558 batting average, the conference batting championship, and the MVP title. He continued playing baseball with the Madison Legion team until he went off to Roane State Community College in Tennessee with an athletic scholarship. He soon transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan College before being drafted by the Houston Astros in 1979. He quickly made an impression in both the minor league and the Class A Florida State League, winning multiple Player of the Week awards as well as the MVP of the Southern Division. In 1981, he was called up to the Double-A Columbus Astros and invited to the Houston Astros spring training roster where he played alongside stars like Nolan Ryan. In 1982 Larry earned his way onto the Major League roster where in the clubhouse his side of the locker room looked like this… Nolan Ryan #34, Don Sutton #35, Joe Neikro #36, Larry Ray #37, and Tim Tolman #38…quite a group. He was sent to AAA in Tucson, AZ just before spring training ended that year. Larry had a great start to the season but during a game, while going for a ball, crashed into an outfield fence and injured his ankle severely. He missed 40 games that year. But, resulting from his early success that year, he was called up to the Majors. His first major league hit came as a pinch hit against Tom Niedenfuer, of the Dodgers, in front of 50,000 fans. Steve Garvey, of the Dodgers, recovered his ball and gave it to Larry, and wished him well.  Larry did not get to stay up long but what a dream come true.

He eventually transitioned to a player-coach role with the Astros minor league system where he developed a reputation as a selfless, helpful, soft-spoken leader. For various reasons, Larry hung up his baseball cleats in 1987.

Larry went on to have a long, rewarding career as a sales representative in the automotive industry where his strong work ethic, honesty, and reliability allowed him to build relationships with his colleagues, many becoming true friends.

Larry had three sons – Dylan, Tanner, and Logan. When they were young, Larry would pick the boys up after school and go hit baseballs or go to the driving range. They were never idle – always finding fun things to do together. He took the boys fishing, and camping and enjoyed all types of water sports. Constantly an elite athlete, Larry would show no mercy at the boys’ dodgeball birthday parties, in league softball games, and even recently in golf outings.  Larry coached the boys’ sports teams over the years and received great joy watching their high school endeavors. He loved his boys very much and formed great friendships during the years of raising them – many of these friendships lasting throughout the rest of his life.

In September of 2006, while watching Arkansas play their first football game of the year at a small restaurant in Maumelle, AR, Larry’s world was forever changed when he met the love of his life, Robin. A mutual friend introduced them and the rest, as they say, is history. It was an instant romance and true love story. In February  2007, immediately after their favorite team, the Indianapolis Colts, beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, Larry proposed to Robin. The couple was married that weekend in The Little White Chapel in Las Vegas.  Larry and Robin lived in Maumelle until relocating to Franklin, TN after Larry’s work territory expanded in 2017.

They loved building their lives together in Franklin, enjoying every moment together while also dreaming of their future. As usual, Larry’s care for others, humility, and willingness to lend a helping hand never subsided. This helped the couple meet wonderful neighbors who quickly became friends. He and Robin loved entertaining as often as they could. You’d often find Larry grilling and serving everyone with a smile.

On July 22, 2023, in Double Springs, Alabama while on a lake trip with dear friends, Larry died suddenly. He passed during the early morning hours of natural causes.

Larry is survived by and will be forever missed by his loving wife, Robin Wright Ray. He is also survived by his three sons, Dylan Ray (Tampa, FL), Tanner Ray (Little Rock, AR), and Logan Ray (Fayetteville, AR); his bonus daughter, Amanda (Nic) Smith (Cape Girardeau, MO); his bonus son Michael Dickens (Jonesboro, AR); and his bonus grandchildren, Kai Dickens, and Evan, Ryan, and Avenly Smith, who all lovingly called him “ LRay” continuing the nickname from his early baseball days.

Larry is also survived by his sisters, Mary Jane (Tom) Demaree (Vevay, IN), Phyllis (Pat) Collier (Vevay, IN), Kay (Rick) Roland (New Albany, IN), Connie (Ronnie) Spurlock (Bennington, IN), Rita (Randy) Scudder (Rising Sun, IN); his loving brothers, Doug Ray (Vevay, IN), James “Jim” (Sharon) Ray (Vevay, IN); his sisters-in-law, Toni (Kim) Inboden (Jonesboro, AR) and Betty Jones Ray (Cincinnati, OH); his mother-in-law, Pat Wright (Jonesboro, AR); 25 nieces and nephews; 33 great nieces and great nephews; and many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, William R. “Bill” Ray, his mother, Dorothy Evelyn Craig Ray, his brother, Danny Craig Ray, and his father-in-law, Jackie “Jack” Glenn Wright.



Larry’s celebration of life service will be conducted Friday, August 4, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. at the North Madison Christian Church Auditorium, 1400 East State Road 62 in Madison, Indiana.



Family will begin gathering at 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the gathering area at the North Madison Christian Church, 1400 East State Road 62 in Madison, Indiana.



Memorial contributions in Larry’s memory may be made to CFSCI (Community Foundation of Switzerland County) for the Larry D. Ray Memorial Fund. Cards are available at the Morgan & Nay Funeral Centers of Madison and Hanover or at the church or at Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home in Vevay, Indiana.