Robert D. Ray

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Robert D. Ray
Robert D. Ray 2007.jpg
Ray in 2007
38th Governor of Iowa
In office
January 16, 1969 – January 14, 1983
Lieutenant Roger Jepsen (1969–1972)
Arthur A. Neu (1973–1978)
Terry Branstad (1979–1983)
Preceded by Robert D. Fulton
Succeeded by Terry Branstad
Personal details
Born (1928-09-26) September 26, 1928 (age 85)
Des Moines, Iowa
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Billie Ray

Robert Dolph Ray (born September 26, 1928) served as the 38th Governor of Iowa from January 16, 1969 to January 14, 1983.

Early life and career[edit]

He served in the United States Army. He received his B.A. in Business from Drake University in 1952 and his Law Degree in 1954.[1] Following several years practicing law, Ray became Chair of the Iowa Republican Party and is credited with rebuilding it following the heavy Republican losses incurred in 1964 when Barry Goldwater headed the national Republican ticket.[2]

Governor of Iowa (1969–1983)[edit]

During Ray's time in office, the Iowa Constitution was modified, increasing the Governor's term of office from two years to four years. Ray served as Chair of the National Governors Association from 1975 to 1976. He also served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, the Midwestern Governors Association, the Education Commission of the States and was the president of the Council of State Governments.[3] As Governor, Ray issued executive orders promoting civil rights, energy conservation, and paperwork reduction as well as establishing the Governor's Economy Committee, the Iowa Council for Children, the Task Force on Government Ethics, the Science Advisory Council, and the Iowa High Technology Commission.[4] Ray signed legislation establishing the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 1974. In 1982, that commission named him the first recipient of the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice.[5] In 1976, Ray, along with his wife Billie Ray and three daughters, became the first Governor of Iowa to occupy Terrace Hill, the official Governor's mansion.[6]

Ray served as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland in 1979. Beginning in 1975, his administration encouraged Iowans to assist in the settlement of southeast Asian refugees in the state, including Vietnamese Tai Dam and Laotian Hmong refugees. He was an advocate of the nickel deposit on aluminum cans. A popular governor during his fourteen-year administration, he has continued to be extremely active in public affairs in Iowa since leaving the governorship, serving as interim Mayor of the City of Des Moines, President of Drake University, and leading several statewide educational awareness efforts and fundraising campaigns. In 1997, he helped form the Institute for Character Development at Drake University.[7] In 2005, Ray became the only Governor or former Governor to have received Iowa's highest civilian honor, the Iowa Award, by the Iowa Centennial Memorial Commission.[8] Ray is Co-Chair, along with Bob Edgar, of the bipartisan National Coalition on Health Care.[9]

Southeast Asian refugees[edit]

Robert Ray (right) with fellow Iowa governor Terry Branstad (left) and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (center), September 6, 2007.

In 1975 Ray was alarmed by the plight of thousands of refugees from the Vietnam War, many of whom were allies of the U.S., who had been expelled or were fleeing from Vietnam and living in temporary refugee camps. Ray initiated programs to allow Vietnamese refugees to live in the United States and eventually obtain citizenship.[10][11]

Iowa burials protection law[edit]

Part of Gov. Ray's legacy is the enactment of the first laws in the U.S. that protected American Indian graves. In the early 1970s Maria Pearson was appalled that the skeletal remains of American Indians were treated differently from white remains. Her husband, an engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, told her that both American Indian and white remains were uncovered during road construction in Glenwood, Iowa. While the remains of 26 white burials were quickly reburied, the remains of an American Indian mother and her child were sent to a lab for study instead. Pearson protested to Gov. Ray, finally gaining an audience with him after sitting outside his office in traditional attire. When Ray asked Pearson what he could do for her, she replied, "You can give me back my people's bones and you can quit digging them up." Ray cooperated with Pearson, and their work led to the passage of the Iowa Burials Protection Act of 1976, the first legislative act in the U.S. that specifically protected American Indian remains. This act was the predecessor of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.[12][13]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert D. Ray, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  2. ^ The Iowa Republican Party indeed has a future, and young Matt Randall should lead the way, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  3. ^ Robert D. Ray, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  4. ^ Executive Orders of Governor Robert D. Ray, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  5. ^ Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  6. ^ Homes of Iowa Governors, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  7. ^ Stateline Midwest, Vol. 18, No. 4, April 2009, p. 8, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  8. ^ Iowa Profile, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  9. ^ Annual Report of the National Coalition on Health Care, 2008 – 2009, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  10. ^ Olson, Gunnar (December 25, 2009). "Refugees' transitions reflected in exhibit". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ Iowa Invites Southeast Asian Refugees, webpage, retrieved December 31, 2009
  12. ^ Gradwohl, D. M.; J.B. Thomson and M.J. Perry (2005). Still Running: A Tribute to Maria Pearson, Yankton Sioux. Special issue of the Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society 52. Iowa City: Iowa Archeological Society. 
  13. ^ Pearson, Maria D. (2000). "Give Me Back My People's Bones: Repatriation and Reburial of American Indian Skeletal Remains in Iowa". In G. Bataille, D.M. Gradwohl, C.L.P. Silet. Perspectives on American Indians in Iowa- An Expanded Edition. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. pp. 131–141. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert D. Fulton
Governor of Iowa
1969 – 1983
Succeeded by
Terry Branstad