Mira Loma drama teacher Jeff Ray challenged students
By Walter Yost -- Neighbors Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Thursday, June 6, 2002
High school drama teacher Jeff Ray, who encouraged
his students constantly to expand their boundaries, died Monday at Marshall
Hospital in Placerville after battling a bone infection for months.
He was 52.
Mr. Ray had taught drama at Sacramento's Mira Loma
High School since 1997. He pioneered the first theater arts class in
the school's International Baccalaureate program. He had been on medical
leave most of this year.
"He was on the creative edge. He strived for excellence
and really challenged the students," said Principal Ed Marquez.
"He didn't do standard high school fare. A lot of students
appreciated that," said David Leisk, a former student of Mr. Ray's.
Mr. Ray was born into a show business family in Pasadena.
His grandfather, Jim Cassidy, and his grandmother, Ruth Elder, both
acted in silent films and helped start a community theater in Altadena.
While living in the Los Angeles area, Mr. Ray was a
TV scriptwriter whose credits included "Greatest American Hero," "Hunter,"
"Hardcastle & McCormick," and "The A Team."
"He thought it was hilarious that he wrote dialogue
for Mr. T," his wife, Maggie, said of the taciturn star of "The A Team."
After the Rays moved to El Dorado County in 1992, Mr.
Ray taught at Northern California Preparatory School in Sacramento before
being hired as drama teacher at Mira Loma.
Two years ago, in an effort to provide his students
with more theater experience, Mr. Ray formed Lookout Productions, which
staged "Bleacher Bums" and "Sly Fox" at the Eagle Theatre in Old Sacramento.
During summers, he often worked with severely emotionally
disabled children, introducing them to drama, said Maggie Ray. "It was
a chance for them to have a success in something and get that applause,"
His students won several drama awards, including Elly
Awards from the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance and honors
at the annual Lenaea Festival at California State University, Sacramento.
In spring of 2000, Mr. Ray was named Teacher of the
Year by the San Juan Unified School District PTA Council. Last year
he won an Elly for directing "The Boys Next Door" at Mira Loma.
Marquez said the entire staff at Mira Loma recognized
Mr. Ray for "being a true educator of the fine arts."
Survivors include his wife, Maggie Ray of Diamond Springs;
son, Sander Thomas of Davis; and daughters, Tessa Thomas and Dorothy
Ray, both of Diamond Springs.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Presentation
Church, 4321 Robertson Ave., Sacramento.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Mira Loma
High School Drama Department, 4000 Edison Ave., Sacramento, 95821, or
the American Diabetes Association Memorial and Honor Program, P.O.
Box 2680 North Canton, Ohio 44720.
Copyright © 2001 LOOK OUT! Players