Brenda and the Rt. Rev. Thomas K. Ray were married for 59 years, they both lived with long-term illness for the past decade, and they died within three days of each other. Both died at home in Northern Michigan, surrounded by their family. Brenda was 81 when she died on Feb. 3, and the bishop was 83 when he died Feb. 6.

Thomas Ray served as Bishop of Northern Michigan from 1982 to 1999. He was an advocate of women’s rights, gay rights, and Mutual Ministry, which the bishop once said “pushed back against the hierarchical infantilizing of adult Christians who are considered second-class citizens if they were not ordained.”

Brenda helped found the Marquette chapter of Habitat for Humanity; she was a member of two book clubs in town for 25 years, and active in the Episcopal Church. She earned a degree in sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a teaching degree. She taught in the Evanston, Illinois public school district.

The Rays met when they were both graduate students at the Universtiy of Michigan. After he graduated from General Theological Seminary, they were married in Grand Rapids in 1959 and spent their honeymoon in the Upper Peninsula.

The Rays are survived by a daughter, Jennifer and sons Christopher, Tim, and Geoff, and 12 grandchildren.

Adapted from GTS News

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