Details of Robert Ray funeral, observances announced

Robert Ray in the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in September 2013. (The Gazette)
Robert Ray in the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in September 2013. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowans will get a chance to pay their respects and say goodbye to former Gov. Robert Ray one last time.

Family members announced Monday that the body of the former governor, who died Sunday, would lie in state at the Iowa Capitol on Thursday before a funeral service is held Friday as part of plans to observe and celebrate Ray’s life.

Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor from 1969 to 1983, died of natural causes after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, his family confirmed. He was 89.

Ray will lie in state at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Thursday afternoon and evening. A brief ceremony will occur at 5 p.m., when the governor will return to the Capitol for the final time. He will be brought into the Capitol’s first-floor rotunda by Iowa Air and Army National Guard troops, state troopers and Des Moines police, according to a statement issued Monday by the Ray family.

The involvement of the military and civilian law officers is intended to honor Ray’s service as commander in chief of the Iowa National Guard during his five terms as governor and his service later as mayor of the capital city, according to David Oman, Ray’s former chief of staff.

Iowans are encouraged to arrive at the Capitol before 4 p.m. as security checkpoints will be used, according to the statement. Members of the public will be able to pass by Ray’s casket and pay their respects from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The funeral for the former governor will be Friday at First Christian Church at 25th Street and University Avenue in Des Moines, near the Drake University campus where Ray also served as president. The service will begin at 1 p.m. and be live streamed. Details of the live stream will be shared later.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University, 2507 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311 or online. Remembrances of the former governor also may be posted on the Ray Center website.


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