Born in Duncan, Oklahoma, on October 2, 1946, Ray picked up the role of leader early in life as he helped provide for his younger brother. Through the encouragement of his teachers and other community leaders, Ray began to develop leadership skills that would serve him later in life. After serving his country in the Vietnam War, Ray earned a B.A. from the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, a master of education degree from Southwestern State College and a doctor of education degree from the University of Oklahoma. As a state legislator, Ray has served on numerous committees.