The Rev. Frank Ray, a well-known local minister and organizer of the Middle Georgia Amateur Boxing Club for several years, died Monday afternoon. He was 85.
Ray had been in a local nursing home for about a year, his family said.
“I’m told he was in good spirits this weekend,” said Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Al Tillman, who had known Ray about a decade.
In August, the new boxing facility at Freedom Park was named for Ray, a tribute to his involvement in the sport for more than 30 years.
“We knew that we had to do something in his honor,” Tillman said.
Ray’s granddaughter Shynita Dudley said boxing was “his baby.”
“He had a love for the community and for the children,” she said of her grandfather, who was born Dec. 27, 1928, in Macon. “That was his passion.”
Although he never held public office, Ray took a strong interest in the local political scene.
Dudley, the widow of former Macon City Councilman Charles Dudley, said she has fond memories of her grandfather and husband sparring about politics.
“Granddaddy would come over on Sunday, and he and my husband would have their political spats,” she said. “They both loved it.”
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert credited Ray, whom he met on the campaign trail in 2007 during Reichert’s first mayoral race, with helping push him to victory in 2007, 2011 and 2013.
“He was a great friend,” Reichert said.
The mayor said Ray had been ill for some time.
“But (he) was dealing with it the way he dealt with everything else, which was with great faith, hope and confidence,” Reichert said. “He will certainly be missed.”
Tillman said Ray was always outspoken and forthright, and remained mentally alert.
“He has lived a true, full life,” Tillman said.
Writer Andy M. Drury contributed to this report.