A lifelong Louisianan, Ray grew up surrounded by animals—from dogs to ducks and cats to cattle. When it came time to select a college major, forestry and wildlife was a logical choice, and Ray subsequently spent five years running a state park.
He traded careers for one in the office and school supply business, but his concern for the well-being of animals continued to deepen. The hunting he once enjoyed lost its appeal after so much on-the-job exposure to wildlife, and today Ray cringes at the thought of any animal suffering or exploitation. "I feel that man can coexist with animals, but much, much more awareness and respect for those animals must take place," he says. "Otherwise, more and more species will be-come extinct."
Ray and wife Claudia, a retired schoolteacher, support several animal-related causes, but the Humane Society of the United States was first. "When I read its mission statement," Ray says, "I realized that the goals were aligned almost exactly with my own." Ray and Claudia share the HSUS's commitment to eliminating the largest, most egregious forms of ani-mal cruelty, including puppy mills, elephant and seal slaughter, extreme confinement of farm animals and the raising of companion animals for their meat and fur.
The couple eventually decided to include a gift to the HSUS in their will. "What better way could we put a stamp on our final wishes," Ray reflects, "than by donating a part of our estate to such a worthwhile cause?"