Mr. Charles L. Ray, Jr., passed away peacefully at Huntsville Hospital on March 5, 2013. Mr. Ray was a native of Huntsville, Alabama, a graduate of William Hooper Councill Training School, he attended Morehouse College and Alabama A & M University where he received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees.
During his long and successful career, Mr. Ray owned and operated Nelms Memorial Funeral Home. He also worked as an educator in the Madison County Public School system and then went on to hold prestigious positions with the Huntsville-Madison County Community Action Agency and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command. He was a member of many community organizations to include Redstone Village, First Stop, Harris Home for Children, Huntsville Human Relations Commission, the Interfaith Mission Service among many others. In 2010 he was an inductee into and recognized nationally for his outstanding service as an inductee into the Defense Credit Union Council’s Hall of Honor.
He was a veteran of the United States Army and a lifelong member of Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. In April of 2011, Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church named its Family Life Center in his honor. A champion of freedom and liberty for all, Mr. Ray was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement as both a student and business professional. During his career he was responsible for bringing many civil rights icons to Huntsville for various diversity programs and celebrations. Between the 1950’s and the 1980’s he was involved in the worldwide political movement for equality, long before it became law. At times he was involved in many campaigns of civil resistance, education and training aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. The process was long and tenuous; however, many of his efforts did lead to improvements in the legal rights of previously oppressed groups of people locally, regionally, and nationally.
Mr. Ray served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Redstone Federal Credit Union from 1983 until 2011. He began serving the Credit Union as a volunteer in 1977 as a Committee Member. During his tenure on the board, Mr. Ray oversaw exponential growth of the Credit Union and guided its transformation into the largest Credit Union in Alabama and one of 25 largest federal Credit Unions in the nation. Mr. Ray will especially be remembered for his unwavering commitment to serving the underserved. He led the great expansion of Redstone’s facilities as well as the development of many of the outstanding products and services that Redstone is now known for.
Mr. Ray is survived by his wife Willie Mae Ray; his daughter, Terri L. Ray; his siblings, Janice Ray, Carolyn Ray, Carl Ray and Cheryl Ray all of Huntsville, AL. and a host of other loving relatives, friends, and employees.