Samuel Ray Hodges
August 27, 1936 – October 9, 2017
Ray Hodges arrived in Coalinga, CA, at the age of 7 when his family left the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. The second son of Tracy Blanton Hodges and Edith Leota Dickerson, Ray passed peacefully on Monday, October 9, 2017, at French Hospital in San Luis Obispo.
Ray attended Coalinga Elementary School, Coalinga High School, and Coalinga College before transferring to CSU Fresno. Ray began clarinet in 4th grade and played in band through college, completing a minor in music. He sang, played piano, and organ in worship throughout his lifetime.
In 1961, Ray married Shirley Ann Bowers and they purchased their forever home the next year. Ray lived a life of service and was committed to the community of Avenal. He served on the Community Services Board prior to the incorporation of Avenal, served on the Chamber of Commerce and Avenal Business Association board of directors, was the regional president of the FTD Association, 25 years as Awana Commander, a member of the Avenal State Prison Community Advisory Committee, and he served for decades on the board of Avenal First Baptist Church.
Ray taught and counseled generations of students at Avenal Elementary School and served as librarian, resource teacher, project director, and vice principal over his 38-year career. In 1985, Ray and Shirley added a flower department to her parent's gift shop, Peck's, and in 1991, they purchased Peck's and enjoyed second careers in the retail floral business
Ray was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Shirley who passed away in 2013, his brother Donald, and his parents. He is survived by his daughter, Jill Stearns and her husband Keith, daughter Janet Rodrigues and her husband Dennis, and grandchildren Cameron and Sam Stearns, Joshua, Amy, and Jacob Rodrigues.
A viewing will be held on Friday, October 13th, from 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. at Avenal First Baptist Church, 6th and Kings Streets, Avenal. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, October 14th, at 11:00 a.m. at Avenal Elementary School Cafeteria, 500 S. 1st Street, Avenal. Friends who wish can make donations in Ray's memory to Avenal First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 326, Avenal, CA 93204.