Ray attended Colcord (OK) High School, graduated in 1946, and then attended Oklahoma A & M College (now Oklahoma State University). During his Senior year in Stillwater, he received his Draft letter. He joined the Air Force to keep from getting drafted into the Army in 1951. Ray had met his wife of almost 67 years, Ulele Deloris Rouse, during high school. Their courtship lasted several years. Ray proposed to Ulele on the phone and she packed her suitcase and all her savings and took a train to New Orleans, where Ray was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. They were married in New Orleans Louisiana by a JP on November 10, 1951, and lived in Biloxi near the Base. In 1952, the military offered a program that if he could graduate college in six months, the government would send him back to finish. Ray and Ulele packed up and moved to Stillwater for a year to get his degree in geology. They had two sons: Dwight Stinchcomb, who was born August 9, 1953 and David Stinchcomb, who was born on November 20, 1954. They were blessed with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In 1955, Ray went to work for McDonnell-Douglas as an electrical engineer. Ray learned electronics while in the Air Force. He was an electronics instructor in his military career. Ray was considered an electrical "gadget" guy by those who knew and loved him. Through the years, he had all sorts of knobs and switches about his house and he would have been ten pounds lighter without all of the remote control devices he carried around. With his 33 year career at McDonnell-Douglas, they lived in Tulsa, OK; St. Louis, MO; and the Los Angeles area of California. Ray retired after 33 years with the company.
After his retirement, Ray spent much of his time as a volunteer at the Talbot Library and Museum (TL&M) in Colcord, Oklahoma. He became an original member of the TL&M Board of Trustees when he joined the Board in 1987 and was an active Board member until his death. Ray worked on much of the electrical and security designs and wiring for the Talbot Library & Museum. Ray, and his brother, Glenn Stinchcomb, were instrumental in setting up the By-Laws which guide the organization today and for the future, as well as establishing the Endowment Fund that has grown steadily over the years. In addition, Ray spearheaded the effort to install the granite memorial tribute in the front of the Talbot Library & Museum Building, to honor Virgil and Avis Talbot. Ray was a valuable part of the continued success of TL&M. He will be missed by everyone who was privileged to serve with him on the Board of Trustees and by those who were able to work with him there.
In 2004, Ray was one of several who helped form the Hildebrand-Beck Mill Museum Association, a non profit group that vowed to restore the Mill to its former luster. Destroyed by a flood more than a century ago, the mill was rebuilt in 1907. The original structure, built in Indian Territory, now southern Delaware County, OK, pre-dates the Civil War. In the mid-1930's, Ray, his parents and rest of the family used to tote corn to the Mill to be ground for meal. Ray served as chairman of the organization for several years. Ownership of the Hildebrand-Beck Mill property was transferred in 2011 to the Cherokee Nation.
Ray loved working on preserving news and history and was especially fond of statistics. For years, he has kept a log at the cabin on the Illinois River called "Weak-End" Cabin Log. Each visitor had to document their visit and date they were there. Ray also loved including historical and family genealogy articles into the Stinchcomb Chronicle family newsletter for many years. Ray loved collecting and documenting family statistics about birthdays, marriages, visitors at family reunions, and more. Ray was also very involved with the Colcord Alumni Association and published their newsletter for many years.
Ray was known to be accident prone and had several "mishaps" throughout the course of his life. His dad accidentally ran over his hip in the family truck when he was a child. When living in St. Louis, Ray drove his lawn mowing tractor off of a high retaining wall in his back yard. Ray also ran a skill saw over his foot while he and Glenn were working in Oklahoma City one summer between semesters. He spent the summer recovering and made as much money as Glenn, who worked all summer. And not that many years ago, he fell off the roof of his barn at home. Thankfully, he was badly bruised and sore and not much worse, but he lay on the ground for quite some time before he was found. We all teased him about these things but we are all blessed that he was able to recover or walk away from all of his "mishaps".
In 1959, Ray and Ulele bought the "Weak End" cabin on the Illinois River in a partnership with his brother and wife, Glenn and Ruby Stinchcomb. Both couples worked to repair it and very soon after the annual Stinchcomb Family 4th of July celebrations began. Many Stinchcomb family members spanning five generations have enjoyed these celebrations as have many Stinchcomb family friends. This annual tradition, after almost 60 years, is still alive in 2018. Those attending the reunion of 2019 will miss Ray, who worked tirelessly with other immediate members of his family to maintain and prepare "the cabin" for these reunions. Ray and Ulele were present at nearly every reunion with the possible exceptions of when they lived in other states. Ray and "the cabin" go together like "peas and carrots"....which brings me to a nickname lovingly given to Ray and Ulele over 25 years ago by some of their nieces and nephews....Uncle Forrest and Aunt Jennie. The cabin visits will never be the same without Uncle Forrest!
Ray was a friend to many and willingly offered help and a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He was the epitome of the New Testament verse Matthew 5:16: " In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." His light shown bright until the end.
Ray Thomas Stinchcomb passed away on Monday, August 20, 2018 at the Saint Francis Hospice Home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For the man who was a very central figure in a large family, it was very fitting that many of his family members spanning three generations were with him when he passed. The pastor even remarked how rare it was to witness so many family members from so many generations visiting, praying, and supporting Ray and his family in his last days.
Ray is survived by his wife, Ulele, of the home; 2 sons, David Stinchcomb and wife Debbie of Catoosa, OK and Dwight Stinchcomb and wife Robyn of Tontitown, AR; 3 brothers, Glenn Stinchcomb and wife Hilda of Dallas, TX, Bob Stinchcomb and wife Joan of Fort Gibson, OK, and Bud Stinchcomb and his wife Linda of Watts, OK; 2 sisters, Mary Ruth McCoy of Meadows Place, TX and Zona Brenner of McAlester, OK; 4 grandchildren Amber Berry of Catoosa, OK, Jesi McGhee and husband Mike of Catoosa, OK, Caitlin Bolmgren and husband Alex of Columbus, MS, and Garrett Stinchcomb of Fayetteville, AR ; and 4 great grandchildren, Lauren and Lia McGhee of Catoosa, OK, Raylea and Owen Bolmgren of Columbus, MS.
Funeral services for Ray Stinchcomb were held on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the Backstrom-Pyeatte Funeral Chapel with Pastor John Mayhue officiating. Burial followed at Oak Hill Cemetery in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, with military honors.
(Article by Sheri Stinchcomb Sharp. Many thanks to David Stinchcomb, Donna Clark, and Glenita Guthrie for information and editing.)
Other articles about the Stinchcomb family may be found in the following past issues:
TL&M Magazine, Volume XI, #4, 2003 - "Osieville” OK by Ray Stinchcomb
TL&M Magazine, Volume XXIV, #2, 2016 - "A History of Osie & Ruth Stinchcomb" by Sheri Stinchcomb Sharp