Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Linfield Hall of Famer Ray Simonsen dies

Linfield Hall of Famer Ray Simonsen died March 11, 2017.
He was enshrined in Linfield's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

Read Ray’s Hall of Fame bio:

(Photo from Ray’s Hall of Fame posting at Linfield Athletics Website.)

He graduated from Oregon’s Cottage Grove High School in 1951. After attending Linfield, he served in the U.S. Army and then returned to Linfield on the G.I. Bill.

According to Linfield Athletics records, Ray lettered in football in the 1951, 1957, 1958 and 1959 seasons and in track in 1952.

A sports column in the Oct. 7, 1958, Oregonian said, “Ray Simonsen, Linfield junior end, and Dan Simonsen, Oregon State College tackle, are brothers. Ray is a service veteran. Both are products of Cottage Grove High.”

An Oregonian football game story in the Nov 2, 1958, describing Linfield’s 34-7 win over Portland State on the Roosevelt High School field in Portland included, “Ray Simonsen, Linfield end, made several spectacular tackles, tossing Portland State players for losses.”

After Ray and Roberta Wells married in 1954, they lived in Fort Hood, Texas, where he was stationed in the U.S. Army at the Fort Hood army base.

The summer 2016 Linfield Magazine said, Ray and Roberta “dedicated their careers to educating young people in Yamhill County schools. Because they believe that Linfield had a life-changing impact on who they became and the opportunities they’ve had, they have faithfully supported the college through scholarship and athletic donations. They recently decided to ensure their financial support would continue beyond their lifetimes by creating a new endowed fund to support Linfield Athletics. The endowment will provide annual gifts in perpetuity that equal what they’ve been giving the past several years.”

Here is Ray’s obituary from May 14, 2017, McMinnville N-R/News-Register:

1934 - 2017

Raymond Elmo Simonsen was born April 1, 1934. The beloved husband, father, son, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle to many and community leader passed away March 11, 2017, surrounded by family.

He grew up in Lynx Hollow, Oregon, where he and Roberta Wells met as neighboring children. They married in 1954, and daughters Pamela and Annette joined the family in 1955 and 1959.

His dedication to family, education and sports began at an early age. Ray attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, on a sports scholarship. He was an NAIA All-America offensive and defensive lineman, earning Little All-America honors as a junior.

In service of his country, Ray joined the Army for two years and returned to Linfield to continue his education on the G.I. Bill. He continued his service in the Oregon National Guard and retired as a lieutenant colonel after serving 28 years.

Ray graduated from Linfield with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1960 and a master’s degree later that year while a committed husband and father. He was inducted into the NAIA District 2 Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and Linfield’s Hall of Fame in 2003, and was a proud member of Linfield’s current streak of 61 consecutive winning football seasons.

His passion for education led him to 34 years in education administration, where he served as superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, vice principal and assistant coach for football, wrestling and baseball at Newberg and Sheridan high schools. He served for two years as the director of student teaching and an assistant coach for football and baseball at Linfield.

His servant’s heart led him to join and help lead many community organizations, including Newberg Rotary, United Way, March of Dimes, Special Olympics and Upward Bound.
He was the chairman of the Newberg Rotary scholarship committee for several decades, and a Rotarian for 52 years.
A humble man, he was recognized as Newberg Citizen of the Year in 2008 from the Chamber of Commerce and Rotarian of the Year in 2013-2014. Ray and Roberta were recognized during the annual Hearts of Gold Celebration by Providence Newberg Foundation in 2013, and the Newberg School District also proclaimed June 18, 1999, as “Ray Day.”

A strong man of faith, Ray was a devoted member of the Newberg Presbyterian Church for nearly seven decades, where he served as an Elder. He sang tenor in the church choir and Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree, raising his eyebrows to hit the especially high notes. He was an equally devoted member of the Linfield alumni, introducing many family and friends to his joy of cheering on the Wildcat football team.

Ray was an avid reader, lover of all sports, competitive bridge player and a longtime member of the “Dandy Dancers.” A shy man at heart with a playful sense of humor, he was the proud patriarch of a large extended family. Spending time with his family and friends was his greatest joy in life.

His memory will be honored by his wife of 62 years, Roberta Simonsen; two children, Pamela (Tim) Weaver of Dundee, Oregon, and Annette (Chuck) Watson of Newberg; brother, Dan (Jean) Simonsen of McMinnville; brothers and sisters throughout Oregon; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the thousands of students whose lives he touched.

A celebration of life will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at Newberg Christian Church, 2315 Villa Road, Newberg. In honor of his beloved alma mater, attendees are invited to wear red, purple or Linfield gear. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor are requested to the Newberg Rotary Scholarship Fund, Linfield’s TopCat Club or any youth programs.