CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University First Lady Beth P. Ray died this evening after battling cancer. She was 67.
She arrived at OSU in 2003 when her husband, Edward J. Ray, was named OSU’s 14th president. A lifetime educator, Beth Ray was previously a business law professor, academic counselor and assistant dean for academic advising.
Born Aug. 18, 1946, Ray was raised in Prairieton, Ind. She received a bachelor of arts in English and philosophy from Rice University in 1968, and a law degree from Ohio State University School of Law in 1972.
The Rays, who were married for 44 years, have three children: Michael Ray, Katherine Hall and Stephanie Pritchard.
Beth Ray was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer in May 2013 and had been receiving chemotherapy treatments. In January 2014, she and her family joined the campus community in a ceremony renaming the OSU Student Success Center as the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support. The push to rename the center in her honor was largely driven by student enthusiasm.
Her commitment to OSU students was well-known. OSU graduate Bridget Burns, an American Council of Education Fellow, said she considered Beth a surrogate parent. Burns was ASOSU president when the Rays came to OSU.
"I always looked up to her and Ed, not just for their supportive love story spanning almost a half century, but because they were totally grounded, honest and good people," she said. "My heart aches about losing her. She was such a special person who brought clarity, light, and kindness into the world. We are all better for having known her."
A celebration of Beth Ray’s life is tentatively scheduled for June 2 on campus. The family requests no flowers but suggests those wishing to honor Beth consider a gift to the Ed and Beth Ray Choral Leadership Endowment or the Ed and Beth Ray Scholarship Endowment at the OSU Foundation, or a gift to the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation to support programs treating childhood cancer.