Laura-Eloise Ray entered the presence of her Lord peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. She was 101 years old. Born Laura Eloise Lillie on July 5, 1911, in South Orange, N.J., she was orphaned in 1917 upon her mother’s death, and was then raised by her godly grandmother Laura B. Anderson. Laura-Eloise grew up in Colorado Springs, graduating from Colorado College in 1933. She was a member of Gamma Phi Beta.
From her earliest age, she recalled knowing Jesus and loving the Lord. Her spiritual convictions shaped the whole of her life. She began teaching Sunday School classes in her church in her mid-teens, and for eighteen years she was soprano soloist at the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs.
She married Frank Oliver Ray Jr. in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City on April 14, 1945, while he was stationed in the Air Force at Mitchell Field, Long Island. Frank and Laura-Eloise had one child, an infant son, Frank III, who died in 1946. After the war, they lived in Colorado Springs until moving to Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, in 1955. They worshipped at the Koloa Missionary Church where they established deep and lasting friendships. After 14 years, they moved to Laguna Hills, Calif., where they were members of the First Christian Church, serving in various leadership roles there. They purchased a home in the Southern California mountain resort town of Idyllwild in 1970. The early years in Idyllwild found Laura-Eloise caring for her physically ailing husband whom she lost in 1977. She purchased a home in Hemet in 1978 while keeping her home in Idyllwild, and enjoyed spending time in both communities from then on.
Laura-Eloise was part of the inception of Idyllwild Bible Church, and watched it grow to become a thriving church in the community. She was the Bible Church’s longest-standing member, always taking intense interest in the church’s work and serving as she was able. She also had a great heart for training the next generation of Christian leaders and was a fervent supporter of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Blessed with a keen mind and always hungry to learn more about the Word of God, Laura-Eloise in her late 60s enrolled as a student at the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, Israel. She completed the “Physical Settings of the Bible” course in 1980. She was a faithful attender of Women’s Bible Study Fellowship and completed their five-year course in 1991 at the age of 80. She became legally blind shortly after and started attending the Braille Institute of Palm Springs. Even though blind, Laura-Eloise continued to live on her own and independently until age 97, at which time she became a resident of Emeritus Assisted Living in Hemet.
Laura-Eloise leaves behind a rich legacy of faith and Christian service and will be missed by those who knew and loved her sharp wit, infectious laughter, authentic friendship, and her deep love for God’s Word and her Savior Jesus Christ.
A memorial service in celebration of the life of Laura-Eloise will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Idyllwild Bible Church, 54400 Pine Crest Ave. Weather Pending. For more information call the church office at (951) 659-4775.