DES MOINES — The outpouring of support and appreciation for former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray has moved his family, friends and former colleagues, Ray’s former chief of staff said Tuesday.
Iowans will have an opportunity to pay their respects to Ray during a public memorial Thursday at the Iowa Capitol.
Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor from 1969 to 1983, died Sunday. He was 89.
“Gov. Ray was known and beloved by three generations of Iowans,” David Oman, a former chief of staff to Ray, said Tuesday at a press conference in the Iowa Capitol media room named in Ray’s honor.
“Some Iowans have learned for the first time all of the things that he did, and other Iowans have been reminded or relearned his record, which has triggered an outpouring of support and appreciation on social media,” Oman said.
Ray will lie in state Thursday evening at the Iowa Capitol, where people may pay their respects, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
A brief ceremony will be held at 5 p.m.
Those wishing to view Ray’s casket are encouraged to arrive at the Capitol before 4 p.m. as security checkpoints will be used.
A motorcade will bring Ray’s casket to the Capitol, leaving from Dunn’s Funeral Home on Grand Avenue past the governor’s mansion on Terrace Hill and through the neighborhood where he and his wife, Billie, attended high school and Drake University.
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The motorcade will stop at Des Moines City Hall, where Ray served as interim mayor of Des Moines in the late 1990s, and then move on to the Capitol.
Ray’s funeral will be 1 p.m. Friday at Des Moines’ First Christian Church, where Ray and his wife met during church camp. They were named king and queen of church camp one year, officials said.
The Rev. Bill Spangler-Dunning with the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest will officiate, with eulogies by Oman, former ambassador Kenneth Quinn and Scott Raecker, director of Drake University’s Robert D. and Billie Ray Center.
The funeral service will be public and live-streamed online at live.drake.edu. The burial will be private.
During the 1970s, Ray helped Southeast Asian refugees displaced by military conflicts resettle in Iowa.
“Gov. Ray’s relationship with the Asian community and theirs with him is pretty well-known,” Oman said. “Some of the most heartfelt, moving, emotional tributes ... have come from some whose lives were saved, or the children or grandchildren of people whose lives were saved.”
Oman said the move, while celebrated now, was not without controversy at the time.
“With the Tai Dam refugees, those were people who were fighting communists. North Vietnam won the war. They were in great peril. They didn’t have anywhere to go, and they wanted to stay together as a small community,” Oman said. “And when all the states passed, one state stood up. ... It takes moral leadership, and it takes courage.”
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