David Elijah Ray, 5, the son of University of Tennessee Agricultural Economics Professor Daryll Ray and his wife, Melissa, died in an accident at his home in Knoxville, Tenn., Nov. 29.
David was born in Knoxville on June 21, 2001. He attended Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church Pre-school for three years. At the time of his death he was a student in Mrs. Hughes' kindergarten class at Bearden Elementary School.
“David was a precious gift and the delight of his parents' life,” said a family friend. “He was especially close to his sister, whom he called ‘my Kayla.’ David was an outgoing child who had a smile and a good word for everyone. He made friends with everyone he met.”
David enjoyed trips to visit family in Iowa. On his recent trip he was thrilled to ride around in a combine with his uncle Merlin and drive a pickup with his aunt Carol.
“He had a special relationship with Mimi and often talked about his grandmother Sylvina in Iowa,” the friend said. “David was excited about everything and knew how much he was wanted by his parents.”
Besides his parents, David is survived by his sister, Kayla Harding of Knoxville; three brothers, Kent Ray and his wife, Joy, Stillwater, Okla.; Mark Ray and his wife, Sheril, Chicago; and Michael and his wife, Amy, Maryville, Tenn.; one nephew, Michael Ray, Stillwater; one niece, Emma Ray, Maryville; grandmother and grandfather, Mimi and Poppy Bain, Knoxville; grandmother, Sylvina Ray, Story City, Iowa; one great uncle, Charles Guy and his wife, Wanda, Lafollette, Tenn.; three uncles, Sterling Ray and his wife, Paula, Jewell, Iowa; Patrick Bain, Knoxville; Bradley Bain and his wife, Tara, Knoxville; and one aunt, Carol, and her husband, Merlyn Hegland, of Ellsworth, Iowa.
The family requests that any memorials be sent to their favorite charity or to the David Ray Memorial Fund, 310 Morgan Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996-4519.
Dr. Ray, a contributor to Delta Farm Press and other Farm Press Publications, is director of the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center.