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Longtime Waxahachie coach, community leader Jimmie Ray to have school named in his honor

*Editor’s note: The below article originally appeared in the Waxahachie Daily Light during the week of July 19, 2019. Ellis County Sports managing editor Travis Smith served in the same role with the WDL at that time. The WDL has since turned over its website, resulting in the loss of this article (and thousands of others). This article is being reshared on ECS to highlight the decision of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees to name a new elementary school after former WISD coach Jimmie Ray on Monday, Nov. 13. 
Jimmie Ray Elementary will be located in the Saddlebrook Estates neighborhood, east of I-35E and north of US Highway 287, nearest Reagor Springs. 
This article, kept on a personal database, has been updated throughout for style and relevance by Travis M. Smith/Ellis County Sports. 

By Andrew Branca

SPECIAL to Ellis County Sports

Jimmie Ray was a son of Tyler, Texas — though he ultimately made his home, life and generational impact in Waxahachie.

Following high school graduation, Ray served his country as a Private First Class (PFC) supply handler in the United States Army and Reserves from May 26, 1957, until his honorable discharge on April 30, 1963.

Ray ultimately enrolled in Texas College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1961. He applied for and accepted a job as a math teacher and basketball coach at Turner High School that same year, prompting Ray and his wife, Melba, to relocate to the Gingerbread Captial. 

It was also at that time that Ray would then forever be known as “Coach Ray.”

In a previous Daily Light article, Ray described himself as a “disciplinary” and someone who pushed students to their limits so they would do better.

“When I first came here, Turner High School was a jungle, and I believed in discipline, and it made a difference,” Ray told the Daily Light.

Integration initiatives eventually led Ray to be reassigned from Turner High School to Marvin Junior High. He has long been credited with easing racial tensions during a challenging time for the community.

Ray eventually carried his educational career to Waxahachie High School (1970-74), becoming an assistant principal in 1974.

During his career, Ray had the opportunity to coach, teach and mentor several thousand students. One of those was former Waxahachie mayor and safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Charles “Chuck Beatty.” Beatty played professionally for the Steelers in the NFL from 1972-76. 

Beatty has since been inducted into several hall-of-fames, including the University of North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame, and most recently had the honor of celebrating the naming of the Charles Beatty Municipal Services Building in downtown Waxahachie — more aptly known as The Beatty Building or City Hall Annex. 

“Coach was a coach, friend and mentor,” stated Beatty in the 2016 Daily Light article. “Our age difference wasn’t much. He came in when I was a junior in high school, and he had just started teaching. That’s why we were so close. He treated us as equals, but we still respected him as a coach.”

Ray first coached Beatty in basketball and football from 1962-64 at Turner High School. The relationship grew and never wavered. 

“I was gone for a while, and when I came back to town, he was one of the first people to welcome me back to town,” Beatty said.

Under Ray’s tutelage, the Turner High Lions appeared in a Prairie View Interscholastic League state basketball championship. That Turner High team — even in their blue and white jerseys and colors — was later inducted into the sixth class of the Waxahachie ISD Athletics Hall of Fame. 

Ray ultimately devoted 39 years to Waxahachie ISD — 16 of those years were spent teaching and coaching, 4 years as an assistant principal, 14 as principal for Northside Elementary (1983-99) and another 5 as a senior administrator.

Ray then transitioned into the political spectrum. He was elected as the Ellis County Pct. 3 constable in 2000 and held that position until his health began to deteriorate in June 2016. The love and popularity among the community never wavered across his four terms. 

Things changed abruptly when Ray was diagnosed with stage three renal failure, which evolved to stage four by April 2016. Ray suffered a stroke just three months following the diagnosis and passed away after a valiant 3-year battle.

The Waxahachie Police Department announced his passing on Facebook on July 13, 2019. Northside Elementary’s Facebook page posted, “We honor [Ray’s] lasting legacy and the positive influence he had on so many in our community.”

Ray, 82, was always described as a “key figure” and a “face of Waxahachie,” even after his death.

Ellis County Pct. 3 constable Curtis Polk Jr. expressed his condolences on social media, writing, “[Ray] was one of the reasons for me wanting to be a constable. Mr. Ray is a legend to our county. He was a coach, principal, and an Ellis County constable. Constable Ray, you left your mark on Ellis County. Thanks for all that you’ve done for me.”

Coach, constable, teacher, friend and community servant Jimmie Ray lays at peace in his family memorial in Whitehouse, Texas. Students will soon walk the halls in his honor in Waxahachie. 

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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