Reunions ‘Carry On’ for 8 Decades for 1938 Alumnus Oakley J. Ray
Oakley Ray was Senior Class President when he graduated from Mesa High in 1938, along with 152 other classmates – the largest MHS graduating class up until that time. He played on both the football and basketball teams and was active in other student clubs, as well. At their 80th High School Class Reunion, which was broadcast on AZ News 12 in May of last year, Oakley, age 98, and two other remaining fellow graduates Cecile Bradshaw and Molliemae Hatch, along with a few life-long friends, reminisced about fellow classmates, the big annual football game against their Phoenix Union High School rivals, and days like the one in the winter of 1937 when it snowed 3 inches in downtown Mesa. They recalled “making the first tracks in the snow” with their bikes and “throwing snowballs at the teachers who were on the way to school.”
Another highlight of Oakley’s high school days was the night he played the lead in the musical performance “Hulda From Holland” which was a stage play adapted from a 1913 silent movie. The basketball team, on which Oakley was a major player, had a big game in Tucson scheduled for the same weekend as the production – much to the coach’s dismay. As it turned out, the basketball team left for Tucson, Oakley performed in the musical, and then after the performance, his father drove him to Tucson and – much to the coach’s delight – arrived at the game just in time to play!
Oakley is a World War ll Veteran, having served as an officer in the US Navy. He loves this great country of America. He remembers standing on the deck of a navy ship, with a Navy Admiral present, and watching as the American flag was raised on the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima. It was a photograph taken of this very scene in February of 1945 that has become the famous and familiar iconic American photo entitled “Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima.”
A life-long resident of Mesa, Oakley and his late wife Janet Andersen Ray chose to bring up their family here. Oakley and Janet had 12 children, two of whom died during childhood. They now share a posterity of 88 grandchildren, 304 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren. Despite the size of his posterity, and due to the fact that his children grew up living in the same residence for 65 years, Oakley and his oldest daughter Beverly are the only two Mesa High alumni in the group. Beverly attended MHS when it was still the only high school in Mesa, but her younger siblings attended Westwood High. The grandchildren in town all went to Mt. View High School.
Congratulations on 80 years, Oakley!
Way to Carry On!
(May 27, 2018 AZ News 12 Broadcast can be viewed on YouTube at’Mesa HS Graduates Celebrate Their 80-year Reunion’)
Left to Right – Wayne Ferris, John Entz, Oakley Ray, Sam Swift, and ??? in 1936
(Can anyone name the unknown person on the far right in this photo?)