The Obit For Don Ray

Don Keith Ray, 76

Don Keith Ray, affectionately know by many whom he touched throughout his 48 years as an educator as “Coach Ray,” peacefully passed from this life at his residence, with his loving family at his side, early Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, 2011, at the age of 76 following a valiant battle with cancer.

Born Aug. 22, 1935, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Keith and Erma (Kight) Ray, as a young child he and his family relocated to the northeastern California railroad community of Portola. Here Don was raised and educated, attending grammar school and later Portola High School and graduating as a member of the class of 1953.

A talented athlete who competed in football, basketball baseball and track, his athletic accomplishments led him to Chico State where he again competed as a member of their football, baseball and basketball teams. As a shortstop he played for the Tri-City Braves, a farm team of the Pittsburg Pirates.

Following Don’s junior year of college, he married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Lee LaSarte, in a ceremony at Holy Family Catholic Church in Portola, Aug. 5, 1956. To this holy union two sons and two daughters were born.

Don graduated from Chico State with his bachelor’s degree in 1957 and with his new teaching credential in hand took a position at Princeton High School where he began what became a 48-year teaching career. Here he coached all three sports, drove the school bus and in his spare time constructed the school’s baseball field.

In 1961, Don and Nancy returned to Plumas County where he began his teaching career with the Plumas Unified School District at Quincy High School. Don coached junior varsity football, baseball and basketball before being named varsity coach three years later. He went on to obtain his master’s degree in education at the University of Nevada, Reno.

His athletic and coaching accomplishments led Don to be named a member of Portola High School’s Hall of Fame and Chico State’s Hall of Fame in three sports. He was a longtime member of the California Teachers Association, the Northern California Coaching Association and the Feather River Referees Association where as a member he refereed for many years. In Northern California coaching records he is fifth in football wins.

Don loved the beauty and serenity of Bucks Lake, especially enjoying the time spent there with his family. He found pleasure in fishing and waterskiing as well as relaxing reading.

In passing Don leaves his loving wife of 55 years, Nancy, of Quincy; sons Jeffrey Don Ray and wife Noni, of Quincy, and Joseph A. Ray, of Moreno Valley; daughters Felicia A. Beck and husband Denis, of Oceanside, and Kristin Spain Wells and husband Mike, of Loomis; brother James Ray, of Weed; and sisters Norma Zugar, of Martinez, and Grace Morgan, of Portola. He was also the proud grandfather of Matthew, Claire, Zachary, Benjamin, Natalie, Kyle, Mikaela and Mackenzie; and great-grandfather to Cruz, Vivienne and Scarlette.

A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated for the repose of Don’s soul 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Quincy, followed by a short memorial service and a reception at Quincy High School.

An opportunity to express condolences to the family and sign the memorial guest register is available online at

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any remembrances of Coach Ray be made to the Coach Don Ray Memorial Fund, c/o Plumas Bank, 336 W. Main St., Quincy, CA 95971 (Acct. No. 111058299). All funds will be used for the construction of Quincy High School’s state-of-the-art weight room.

The Ray family appreciates all your support.