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William  Stratton Ray, Jr.

William Stratton Ray, Jr.
  • May 11, 1944 - January 26, 2016
  • Northampton, Massachusetts

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Memories & Candles

“I met Stratton at the Tippet Home where he was my patient. I volunteer at the home and enjoyed knowing Stratton very much. He was a very talented...Read More »
1 of 5 | Posted by: Mary Lou Hughes - Needham, MA

“Stratton and I co-taught a beginning adult ESOL class in Ludlow MA several years ago. Stratton's vast understanding of language learning and his...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: Diane Worth - Holyoke, MA

“Stratton taught English for Speakers of Other Languages at Holyoke Community College's Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center for a short time. He was a...Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Kermit Dunkelberg - Holyoke, MA

“Playing the piano with Stratton by my side, singing great jazz favorites and songs that spanned the century, that is my favorite memory of my friend...Read More »
4 of 5 | Posted by: teri jenkins - salt lake city, UT

“Bright, witty, lovely and kind are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Stratton. The world has lost a very special human being....Read More »
5 of 5 | Posted by: Carol Pironi - Yorktown Heights, NY


William Stratton Ray Jr. passed away peacefully from metastatic kidney cancer on January 26, 2016 at age 71. Born on May 11, 1944 in Middletown, CT to Ebba Rudie and William Stratton Ray, Sr., he grew up in the Hartford area. After his father's death when he was five years old, he learned much of the resilience and reliance on community that would serve him well throughout his life. Even as a young person, he was able to share his love of languages, literature, and music with close friends. He received his B.A. in English from Yale University in 1967 and briefly attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, before pursuing a career in language teaching. He was a gifted instructor whose musical abilities helped him to communicate the rhythms of speech with creativity and humor. After completing his Ed.D. at Columbia Teachers College in 1989, he became a language testing specialist at the U.N. and later taught English As a Second Language at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. His colleagues and former pedagogy students remember the great sense of support they felt from him, and how his humor helped to ease the stress of standing up in front of a new class. He was a community builder- committed to connecting with students and learning thier stories.

Stratton met his wife Virginia Ann Wright in Pittsburgh, PA; they married in June 1970 and shared many adventures around the world. Together they adopted Stephanie Wright Ray in Medellin, Colombia in 1992. After Virginia's death from cancer in 1997, Stratton and Stephanie lived in the New York City area until their move to the Quaker community in Monte Verde, Costa Rica, where they spent five rich and lively years before moving to Salt Lake City, Virginia's hometown, so that Stephanie could finish high school in the U.S. In 2012 Stratton moved to Northampton, MA, while Stephanie attended Mt. Holyoke College. Wherever he lived, Stratton found ways to share his love of languages and music, teaching in his community, singing in choral groups, and taking private voice lessons. He will be remembered not only for his beautiful baritone voice but also for the sheer joy he found in singing music from Verdi to Hoagy Carmichael. Even at the end of life, he was testing out his breath and memory by singing a Puccini aria. His love of literature remained until the end as well; he and Stephanie were reading Pride and Prejudice , Moby Dick, and other classics together, with Stratton completing many lines from memory.

Stratton was a remarkable father who opened the world to Stephanie and nurtured each community in which they lived. He touched innumerable lives with his kindness, wisdom, and wit. Stephanie would like to thank the thoughtful staff at the Stanley R. Tippett Hospice Home in Needham, MA, and the Baystate Medical Center for thier outstanding care and the many friends who spent time with Stratton in his last weeks.

A memorial service will be held on Sun March 6, 2015 at 1 PM in the Eaton Funeral Home 1351 Highland Ave Needham Ma.