Bob Wray, a longtime Claremont resident, died peacefully on October 27, 2012 with his family at his bedside. He was 87.
Mr. Wray was born in Long Beach, California on May 23, 1925 to Timothy Allen Wray and Mabel L. Haworth. He lived through the Great Depression and, after graduating from Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, served 3 years in the Navy during World War II.
Mr. Wray met the love of his life, Daisy Wentland, at the First Congregational Church of Long Beach. They were married for 60 years, moving to Pomona and eventually to Claremont where they resided for 54 years, raising a family of 5 children. Though Mr. Wray didn’t have an engineering degree, his remarkably precise drafting skills led to him to work as an engineer. He retired from General Telephone Co. in 1987 after 36 years of service.
When Mr. Wray wasn’t on the job, family dominated his life. He coached and managed Little League and Pony League baseball with his sons for 11 years in Claremont. It was a vicarious thrill for Mr. Wray, who had once aspired to be a baseball player and maintained a passion for the sport throughout his life. Family members recalled that, whenever they drove around southern California on family vacation days, Mr. Wray had the radio tuned to a baseball game.
“He was such an avid supporter of the sport,” his son Philip Wray said, noting that the Chicago Cubs always had a special place in his heart.
The Wrays were fond of longer car trips, too, and took many cross-country journeys with all 7 family members packed into a station wagon. While the western states were a favorite destination, Mr. Wray was proud of having visited 48 of the 50 US states. He had the opportunity to visit many legendary baseball venues over the years, from the Cardinals’ Busch Stadium in St. Louis to his beloved Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Mr. Wray had a ready sense of humor, his daughter remembered.
“He was always teasing my mom because she was so gullible,” Ms. Sours said. “He’d get her to believe all kinds of things.”
Another of Mr. Wray’s endearing qualities was his dauntless enthusiasm. He enjoyed all types of hobbies, building model airplanes as a child and collecting baseball cards, stamps and coins for a time. He had an extensive collection of baseball caps and was known for always wearing one wherever he went.
Mr. Wray was also an art connoisseur, especially Western American art, and drawing. Painting planes and trains was his true love. Mr. Wray presented many of his marvelously detailed renderings, made with acrylics or pen-and-ink, to friends as gifts over the years. He always had a drawing on his art table, right up until the end, and his family enjoyed having his work decorate their walls.
“He was fantastic,” his daughter Susan Swarzkopf said. “He was really a born artist. He just never got the chance to fully pursue it.”
Mr. Wray was an avid reader, particularly enjoying biographies and historical nonfiction, as well as a film buff whose enjoyment of the movies dated back to when he was a kid in the ‘30s. The extensive DVD collection he amassed was comprised of feel-good movies and dramas with uplifting outcomes.
“He liked a movie with a happy ending,” his son Scott Wray said. “Everything had to turn out right.”
While Mr. Wray’s children miss him immensely, they take comfort in the fact that he, too, had a happy ending.
“I have no regrets—I have had the most wonderful life,” he told his children shortly before his death. “If I die tomorrow, it’s perfectly fine, because I’ve lived the kind of life I wanted to live.”
Mr. Wray was preceded in death by his wife Daisy in 2010. He is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Shirley and Frank Sours of Baltimore, Maryland and Susan and John Swarzkopf of Upland; by his sons and daughters-in-law, Philip and Barb Wray of Upland and Scottie and Amanda Wray of Everett, Washington; by his son, Alan Wray of Claremont; by his brother, Jack Wray of Ventura; and by 4 grandchildren.
Mr. Wray’s life will be celebrated at a funeral held at Todd Memorial Chapel, 325 N. Indian Hill Boulevard in Claremont, on Saturday, November 3 at 10:30 a.m. The service will be preceded by a 9:30 a.m. viewing.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to OPARC Adult Development Center in Montclair, 650 Arrow H