BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
---- — SALISBURY — Ron Ray has stood as a symbol of community spirit in town for decades, and on Monday night the town got to say “thank you.”
Ray was caught off guard by Monday night’s tribute, for he was attending his first Town Meeting in 30 years at which he hadn’t been at the Town Moderator’s podium. Ray, 76, retired as moderator this year, feeling it was time to step aside, but according to selectmen, they couldn’t let him go without honoring the good work he’s done in town.
Serving 30 years at Town Moderator gives Ray the record for holding the job, Selectman Henry Richenburg told a well-packed Town Meeting. But Ray had been providing service to his hometown for longer than that, Richenburg said, and is still active on Salisbury’s Harbor Commission and as an assistant Harbor Master.
A retired school financial administrator, Ray has been married for 48 years to his wife, Yvonne, and is the father of three, who learned from his actions what it takes to be a good citizen.
“He was such a role model, we learned from his example,” said Ray’s daughter Ronalee Ray-Parrott, who is the chairwoman of Salisbury’s Parks and Recreation Commission. “When I was seven my father became a baseball coach in town and later he served as president of Salisbury’s Little League. He’s just always been involved in our community.”
According to Richenburg, Ray may have retired from the job of Town Moderator, but he’s still committed to Salisbury, the town he loves.
“He never stops giving sound advice or words of encouragement,” Richenburg said. “He exemplifies what community spirit means.”
Town Meeting agreed, giving Ray two, long lasting standing ovations.
Clearly moved, Ray rose to accept two certificates, one from the Board of Selectmen, and another from the state House of Representatives.
“Had I known this was going to happen I would have had three or four pages to read,” Ray said, joking, but then grew serious. “It’s only because of the people of Salisbury that I lasted 30 years (as Town Moderator). Thank you for electing me.”
And in the audience to treasure the moment, along with Ray-Parrott, were her brother and mother.
“My mother hasn’t gone to a Town Meeting for a very long time, because she used to get so nervous when my father was Moderator,” Ray-Parrott said. “But my father asked her to go (Monday) night, and she did. She was very happy, and my father was very excited and completely surprised.”