Gerry Ray, 90, of Olathe, Kansas, passed away on Friday, December 9, 2022. Friends and family will gather for a celebration of Gerry’s life on Monday, December 19, 2022 at Knox Presbyterian Church, 9595 W. 95th St., Overland Park, KS. Visitation begins at 11:00 a.m. followed by a service of witness to the resurrection at 12:00 p.m. A procession will immediately follow to the graveside service at Johnson County Memorial Gardens, 11200 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS 66210.
The church service will be livestreamed at Watch Us – Knox Church. In lieu of flowers, donations to Knox Presbyterian Church or Aberdeen Village Good Samaritan Fund are suggested in her memory.
Gerry was born on February 17, 1932 in Vienna, MO, to Chester David Clawson and Stella May (Maxey) Clawson. Gerry’s family moved to Pine Lawn, a suburb of St. Louis, MO, when she was a child. She graduated from Normandy High School in 1950, fell in love with Jerry Ray and married him on March 3, 1951. She made her home in Berkley and Florissant, MO until her husband was transferred to the Kansas City area.
Gerry and her family moved to Overland Park, KS in 1966 and a home in Nall Hills where she and Jerry raised their 3 children and enjoyed their 6 grandchildren until the couple moved to Aberdeen Village in 2019.
Gerry was an active volunteer community leader in many spheres, serving as a Girl Scout leader for over a decade and as PTA co-president for John Diemer Elementary and Nallwood Junior High (now Indian Woods Middle School). Ordained as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Gerry’s faith in Jesus Christ shaped her identity and values. She was a respected member and leader at Knox Presbyterian Church where she served as a Sunday school teacher, youth leader and on the Session (church board).
In 1980, Gerry graduated from Johnson County Community College with an associate degree as a paralegal At midlife, she joined the workforce as the clerk of the Johnson County Commission. She received the 1992 Award of Excellence of the Kansas City Area Archivists and the 1993 Midwest Archives Conference President’s Award for the establishment of an archives and records management program for Johnson County, Kansas.
From 1982 to 1996, Gerry served as chief lobbyist for Johnson County and Overland Park to the Kansas state legislature. During that time she served as president of the Kansas Association of Counties and was active in leadership of the National Association of Counties.
Gerry was elected to the Kansas State House of Representatives in 1996 and served three terms until 2002. She served as chairperson of the House Local Government Committee. She also served on the House Environment and Kansas Futures Committees.
Gerry was presented the 2002 Intergovernmental Leadership Award by the League of Kansas Municipalities for her outstanding leadership in and legislative support of constitutional home rule.
After stepping down from the state legislature, Gerry was appointed then elected to the Shawnee Mission School District board of directors. She represented the South district. As the official representative of the board at the Shawnee Mission South (SMS) graduation ceremonies, she was honored to personally present diplomas to her own grandsons as they graduated in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
Throughout her professional life and public service, Gerry was an active member of the local Rotary Club. She was a strong advocate and effective, dedicated mentor for women and young adults rising in leadership across many professional sectors with whom she generously shared her skills, wisdom and encouragement.
Gerry loved being outdoors, whether around a campfire with her family or gardening in her yard. She enjoyed boating and spent summers with her husband and family on their houseboat at Lake Perry. She had a soft heart for animals, whether they were pets or wild, and frequently rescued and found homes for strays.
Gerry’s family was the center of her life and heart across four generations. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and recently great-grandmother. Her home was always open to her children and grandchildren, and their friends and families. She hosted the best, most welcoming parties and her greatest joy came whenever the people she loved sat around her dining room table.
Gerry is preceded in death by her husband, Jerry Ray, parents Chester and Stella Clawson, sister Virginia Lamb and brother Roy Maxey. She is survived by her children Catherine Ray Nance (Terry); Cynthia Ray (Stephen Nicholson); Lawrence Ray (Julia), six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
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