Paul Ray, founder of Judson Terrace, dies

Longtime pastor of First Baptist Church developed many community projects in his 45 years on the Central Coast

clambert@thetribunenews.comNovember 4, 2012 

Paul Ray in 1980.

Dr. Paul S. Ray, a longtime San Luis Obispo pastor and the founder of Judson Terrace Homes, a low-cost housing facility for seniors on the Central Coast, died Oct. 28 at his Paso Robles home. He was 91. During the more than 45 years he lived on the Central Coast, Ray envisioned, spearheaded and completed numerous community projects to benefit seniors, children and others.

“It seemed to me that he looked around and the needs that he saw … he did what he could to meet those needs,” his wife, Doris Ray, said Saturday.

Ray helped bring Meals on Wheels to the area, a program that brings hot meals to people, particularly seniors, she said.

He started the first day care/preschool in San Luis Obispo, called Johnson Avenue Preschool, as well as a Christian counseling center, his widow said. Both were located on the same property as the First Baptist Church on Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo, where Ray served as pastor for 16 years.

Ray was born Aug. 24, 1921, on a kitchen table inside a log cabin near Oxly, Miss. He grew up in Michigan, graduated from Judson College in Chicago and served in the U.S. Coast Guard in the southwest Pacific, according to a Tribune article published Oct. 4, 1980.

Ray returned to Illinois to graduate from Eureka College in Eureka, and from Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago. He was ordained in 1951 in Graymont Baptist Church. He served as minister there for three years, and then moved to Taft.

He later served as director of church extension for eight years, where about 40 churches were established under his leadership, primarily in Southern California.

While working in Southern California, Ray visited a senior retirement home under construction. He asked the cost to live there, and was surprised by the amount, Doris Ray said.

“He made a silent vow that if he was ever in a community where there was a need, he would do something about it,” she said.

He saw that need in San Luis Obispo, where he moved in the mid-1960s. Ray spearheaded a feasibility study for affordable senior housing in San Luis Obispo and set the Judson Terrace project into motion. The facility celebrated its 40th anniversar y in 2010, with Ray in attendance.

In the 1980 Tribune article, Ray talked about the facility:

“So little is done in our society for the person who works hard all his life and makes a hand-to-mouth living,” he said. “That is the person I really had a concern for in initiating the Judson Terrace project.”

Ray was first married for 55 years to his childhood girlfriend, Lorraine. After her death, he married Doris in 1998. He is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Ray Goldman and Paula Ray Geibel; and his four grandchildren, Lindsey and Billy Geibel and Katelyn and Jake Strange.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at Judson Terrace Homes, 3000 Augusta St. in San Luis Obispo. It will be open to the public.

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