Ray was born in 1931 in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA (Corapolis). “Looking back, my mother and brother Earl never escaped from the area – both he and my mother are buried in a cemetery overlooking the highway to the airport.” Ray’s mother, Margaret Ryan, and father, George Wesley Gibbons, preceded him in death as well as his brothers Earl and John, as well as his half-brothers, George Jr. and Jack Sr., and their sister, Virginia. He lived with his father until his graduation from McKees Rocks High School in 1949. From there it was on to Voluntary Military Service until December 1952 serving in Washington, D.C., and Southern France. During his military service, he achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class.
Upon leaving the service he held odd jobs with various Pittsburgh companies. One of his jobs – selling backed goods from a Liberty Baking Company truck (Flavor Queen) – door to door. For this he is most grateful for it brought him in contact with many people – one of whom was a former teacher of his. Mrs. G encouraged using his GI Bill to get more education. With his discharge papers in his hands and a guarantee of $125 a month to pay for tuition and living expenses for him and his mother he enrolled in Duquesne University - a significant event that changed him for the better. University life was hard on Korean Vets, who had very little ambition to move ahead. That movement came with encouragement from the Holy Ghost Fathers and his association with the drama club (Red Masquers). With the activities in the drama club and Fraternity (Alpha Epsilon), he was nominated and elected to the 1957 listing of “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.” Ray did not graduate with honors but enjoyed his last two years at DU much more than the first few.
During his senior year he was employed as a Junior Accountant with Lybrand Ross Brothers – another turning point his life as he was, upon graduation, employed full-time. During travels for Lybrand, one audit took him to Charleston, W.VA where in 1959 he found his love mate, Laura Collier. Laura and Ray were married on February 27, 1960, at Holy Innocents Church in a Pittsburg suburb. Father Joseph Duschene officiating with John Gibbons as best man and Mary LeMarca (Laura’s friend) as maid of honor.
They set up housekeeping on Tweed Street in Sheridan on the first floor of a three-story house. During their first few years there, he was intensely studying for the PA CPA exam, which he passed on February 3, 1961.
Their daughter Karen was born in March 1961 followed by Mark in June 1965. During the years ’61 to ’70 they maintained residences in Rockville, MD, and Ray spent about 3 years attending night school at Catholic University School of Law. Ray was employed with a local CPA firm and subsequently as the Treasurer of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of Washington, DC, Radiation Systems, Inc., and then onto the National Training Laboratories (NTL). NTL was the leader at the time in Human Relations training or better known as sensitivity training. Ray spent roughly 8 years with NTL and then opted to develop his own CPA firm. His interest at the time was to teach medical interns how to manage medical practices as a business. At one point in his practice, he was working with 28 medical practices. His practice was later sold but he maintained a small tax preparation service in Great Falls, VA.
FOR THOSE I LEAVE BEHIND
When I am gone, just release me.
Let me go – so I can move into my afterglow.
YOU MUST NOT TIE ME DOWN WITH YOUR TEARS: let’s be happy
That we had so many years.
I gave you my love
You can only guess how much you gave me in happiness,
I thank you for the love you have each shown,
But now it’s time I traveled on alone.
So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must.
Then let your grief be comforted with trust,
It’s only for a little while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I will greet you with a smile and a hug
And a WELCOME HOME!!!
LOVE FOREVER PAPA RAY!!!