Dale Ray, our treasured friend and colleague in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), passed away on December 23 in hospice care at Grady Memorial Hospital from complications of a major left brain stroke that he suffered on November 28 and subsequent surgical stroke interventions. He was 87 years old.
An ECE Professor Emeritus, Ray was a much respected and beloved leader in the School and in the Georgia Tech community for 33 years. He received the B.S.E., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees, all in electrical engineering, from the University in Michigan in 1956, 1957, and 1962, respectively. Prior to his career at Georgia Tech, Ray was with White Sands Proving Grounds and the Chrysler Corporation, where he was involved in guided missile research. At the University of Michigan, Ray was an assistant professor and the administrative director of the Solid State Devices Laboratory, where he was involved in upper atmosphere research, as well as research on computer components and semiconductors.
Ray arrived at the Georgia Tech School of Electrical Engineering in 1966 and served on the faculty until his retirement in 1999. He served as a guest editor for the August 1981 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education, which was devoted to energy, and he published the textbook, Engineering Concepts and Perspectives. His research interests included the theoretical modeling of solid-state devices based on energy considerations and practical applications of the devices.
Ray was the School’s associate chair for graduate affairs from 1979-1999, where he guided a period of tremendous growth. In 1979, enrollment in the School’s graduate program totaled 223, and in fall 1998 a few months prior to his retirement, ECE’s graduate student body had more than tripled to 745.
At the time of Ray’s retirement, then ECE School Chair Roger Webb said that Ray’s service and leadership in the graduate affairs office was monumental. In 1979, the School was producing four or five Ph.D. graduates per year, and at the time of his retirement in February 1999, ECE was producing 60 or more Ph.D. graduates per year. Ray was noted for his integrity, attention to detail, and caring about students and colleagues. He is remembered as a positive and helpful influence to faculty, staff, and students alike.
Ray truly enjoyed personal interactions with all of the undergraduate and graduate students in ECE. He especially loved getting to know the graduate students, first through learning about them through reading their application materials. Upon the students' arrivals and throughout the courses of their studies, Ray always took the time to learn about their backgrounds and their strengths and ambitions, and he developed close and lasting relationships with many of them.
While at Georgia Tech, Ray served the larger Georgia Tech community in many other ways. He was the associate dean of the Division of Graduate Studies and Research from 1969-1972. Ray was chair of the Georgia Tech Executive Board in 1988-1989, 1989-1990, and 1992-1993. He received the Georgia Tech Outstanding Service Award in 1990 for his work to improve undergraduate and graduate programs in electrical engineering, his service on numerous committees at Georgia Tech, and his service with the Executive Board, part of which coincided with the academic restructuring at Georgia Tech that led to the formation of the College of Computing, the College of Sciences, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Studies. Throughout his career, Ray received numerous honors and held memberships in professional societies. He was also an invited member and the only educator representing electrical engineering education in the 1981 IEEE Delegation to the People’s Republic of China.
Ray left an indelible mark on the ECE graduate program and the School as a whole that helped to set ECE on a trajectory of spectacular growth that has continued throughout the years. His impact and influence lives on through the graduate students who have come through ECE and who have gone on to many different positions in academia, government labs, and industry.
Ray is survived by his wife, Barbara, who was on the faculty of Georgia State University in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. He is the father of Dale, Jr., Gregory, Geoffrey, and Randy, who passed away in 2017, and he had four grandchildren. Ray was buried at the Senoia City Cemetery in Senoia, Georgia. Post-pandemic, a celebration of life will be scheduled in Atlanta.
To honor Ray’s memory, contributions may be made in his name to Morningside Presbyterian Church, 1411 N. Morningside Drive, Atlanta, GA 30306. To read more about Ray and his rich and full life that was very well-lived, please see https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/atlanta/obituary.aspx?n=dale-ray&pid=197390313. Ray was also interviewed by Marilyn Somers, founder of the Georgia Tech Living History Program, on August 28, 2013. The interview may be seen in its entirety, along with summaries of his career accomplishments and service, at https://www.livinghistory.gatech.edu/s/1481/45-lh/index.aspx?sid=1481&gid=45&pgid=10049.
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Last revised January 6, 2021