A tribute to Charlotte Ray

Marriage | Remembering ‘a strong woman where strength really counts’
by Cal Thomas
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2017, at 12:51 pm

My wife of 51 years passed away Saturday after a long battle against multiple health issues.

We met in the musical theater. She was in it. I wanted to be on stage. I have a passable singing voice. Her contralto voice was powerful and perfectly pitched. She could hit the back seats without amplification. She traveled with some of Broadway’s biggest stars on the summer stock circuit, but ultimately chose another life—a life with me and our four children. When they were older I urged her to finish her college education while I kept house. I was glad to do so after all the sacrifices she made for me. She earned a master’s degree and became an excellent family counselor.

When I was in the Army at the start of our marriage, assigned to Armed Forces Radio in New York and holding a second civilian job to make ends meet, she would get up at 1 a.m. when I got home and fix me something to eat.

That kind of love and loyalty deserves something in return. When we had finally “made it” we traveled the world, meeting interesting people and visiting interesting places. Some people may have viewed us as dinosaurs. We believed marriage was for good and that attitude allows you to work out virtually any disagreements or problems. She used to tease me after a long forgotten argument, saying, “You’ll miss me when I’m gone.” She was right. I do.

Most newspaper obituaries of the non-famous summarize a life in two or three paragraphs. Ray’s life was worth more than that. She was generous with her time and money, always spending and sending as much as she was able to her children and grandchildren. I can say without embellishment I would not be the man I am today without her. God knew what He was doing when He put us together.

On the day of her passing, I posted this thought on my Facebook page:

“Men, love your wives. Don’t wait until they are about to be taken from you before you realize what they have contributed to your life. Love them now so you have no regrets at the end. I am glad my wife as she prepares to meet her Savior has known of my love for her and how valuable she has been to me. Have you told yours that? Love today is seen as a feeling. But real love is a commitment, a covenant. That’s why most of us take marriage VOWS instead of make promises.”

Those who were fortunate enough to know Ray knew a strong woman where strength really counts. She knew who she was and wasn’t defined by the value system applied by the world, which regards fame, money, and political power as supreme. To love and to be loved by someone like that for so long is a gift of great value.

A friend wrote me that Ray was “lucky” to have me. Since we met in the theater, I immediately thought of this song lyric from Showboat, one of our favorite musicals:

In this sweet, improbable and unreal world
Finding you has given me my ideal world
Why do I love you? Why do you love me?
Why should there be two happy as we?
Can you see the why or wherefore?
I should be the one you care for
You’re a lucky boy, I am lucky too
All our dreams of joy seem to come true
Maybe that’s because you love me
Maybe that’s why I love you.

Rest in peace, sweetheart. We shall meet again.

Listen to Cal Thomas’ commentary on the Feb. 14 edition of The World and Everything in It.

© 2017 Tribune Content Agency LLC.

Cal Thomas

Cal contributes weekly commentary to WORLD Radio. Over the last five decades, he worked for NBC News, FOX News, and USA Today and began his syndicated news column in 1984. Cal is the author of 10 books, including What Works: Commonsense Solutions to the Nation's Problems. Follow him on Twitter @CalThomas.

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  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 02/13/2017 01:46 pm

    My deepest condolences, Mr. Thomas. I will pray for you and your family.

  • Chris Lay's picture
    Chris Lay
    Posted: Mon, 02/13/2017 02:16 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your wife and your marriage! May the Lord surround you with His comfort, love, and grace.

    Posted: Mon, 02/13/2017 02:25 pm

    Cal, I am so sorry for your loss. I have always appreciated your words of wisdom, none more so this sweet tribute to your wife. I am praying for you and your family as you "grieve with hope." Yes indeed, you will meet again.

  • JRZ Girl in VA
    Posted: Mon, 02/13/2017 03:05 pm

    Mr. Thomas, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.  

  • JMShinn
    Posted: Mon, 02/13/2017 03:06 pm

    Mr. Thomas, I pray that the God of all comfort will meet you in your grief with His all-sufficient grace.  I rejoice with you that this grave is not the end and that you will see your Charlotte Ray again.

  • K Scott
    Posted: Tue, 02/14/2017 03:14 am

    Beautiful tribute. May God blanket you with His comfort and peace, until that day when you and your bride will sing together again. God bless you and your loved ones during this time of great sorrow. 


  • Hutch
    Posted: Tue, 02/14/2017 12:10 am

    Thank you for sharing your love for your wife with us today. 

  • TE
    Posted: Tue, 02/14/2017 09:09 am

    Dear Mr. Thomas,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing with all of us the essence of "true love" on Valentine's Day: putting others above yourself, which is what both you and your wife did well.

  • TxAgEngr
    Posted: Wed, 02/15/2017 02:23 pm

    Mr. Thomas, you have me deepest sympathy for the loss of your wife.  Fifty-one years of faithful marriage is a wonderful testimony of the power of the Holy Spirit in your lives and a priceless example to your children and grandchildren.  Thanks for sharing a little of her God-honoring life with us.  

  • James
    Posted: Wed, 02/15/2017 02:46 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story! What an amazing testimony! God bless you, Mr. Thomas.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Sun, 02/19/2017 01:20 am

    Dear Mr. Thomas,

    You have been a blessing to us all over the years. I still have the letter  you sent me in response to mine many years ago.  And now reading this sweet article I see your wife was a blessing to us all too! May God bless you and comfort you as you go through this difficult time - and your family too.

    Blessings to you!