Ray passed away on May, 27, 2018, as a consequence of having lived to the age of 97. Born in Ogden, Utah on February 20, 1921, to Ramon Varela Sr., and Antonia Aspiri Varela. Ray began violin lessons at age 10, and at 14 was playing recitals in Salt Lake and Ogden. He is remembered for performing Saint-Saens' "Rondo Capriccioso" for solo violin at the baccalaureate service and the virtuosic "Polonaise Brillante" by Henri Wieniawski at his graduation ceremony from Weber College in 1941. On October 20, 1942, while a junior at the University of Utah, Ray was drafted into military service, and served in the South Pacific at Saipan and Iwo Jima as a sergeant in a heavy weapons platoon. Prior to deployment overseas, he served as a musician in the U.S. Army and Hill Air Force Base, playing an upright horn in the marching band and violin in the "Keep ‘Em Flying Orchestra," which aired on national television during 1943.
Ray returned to the University of Utah following his discharge from the army, and graduated in 1947 with a degree in Education. He taught at Ogden Central Junior High School from 1948 through 1951, resigning for a better salary at Depot Drug Store as a clerk, and later a manager. Ray worked for McKesson-Robbins Wholesale Drug Company from 1952 through 1966, working as a salesman and laboratory representative covering Utah, Idaho, western Wyoming and Elko, Nevada. He was promoted to Buyer and Gift Show manager before resigning his position for health reasons.
In June of 1966, Ray was employed as Contract Negotiator for the U.S. Air Force at Hill Field. Over the next 20 years, he provided total support domestically and abroad for the maintenance of various aircraft simulators. In 1982, Ray was appointed Contracting Officer, with unlimited contract signature privilege. Upon retirement in 1986, he was awarded the prestigious U.S. Air Force Wright Brothers Bronze Plaque for his service as a skilled negotiator and mentor to his co-workers.
Ray had the good fortune to marry Margaret Soares of Dixon, California on June 28, 1951. Together they created happiness and a bright future for their children, Ronald Ray and Mary Ann. Together, Margaret and Ray saw both children graduate from the U of U with Bachelor's degrees, and later MBA degrees, for which they provided financial and moral support.
Ray was preceded in death by Ronald and Margaret. He is survived by Mary Ann Holladay (Lynn); grandchildren Joe Varela and Izarra Margarita Varela-Moore; and great-granddaughter Sulidae.
The family would like to thank the staff of Sunrise Senior Living of Holladay and Envision Home Health & Hospice for their loving care.
A celebration of Ray's life will be held on Friday, June 22, 2018 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking on the north side of the building.
In lieu of flowers, Ray requested that donations be made to the homeless or a charity of choice, and above all else, to be of good cheer.