A LOVE OF MUSIC & “HER KIDS”
Marilyn Anita Mitchell was born March 25, 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Chester Mitchell, was a traveling salesman with the William R. Moore Dry Goods company. Her mother, Mary, was a church secretary until Marilyn was born and remained a homemaker, having two more children – a girl and a boy – until Marilyn and her siblings were out of school.
Marilyn graduated from Humes High School in 1950 – three years before Elvis. During that time, she worked at Goldsmith’s and did some local modeling downtown at places like the Tea Room and Gerber’s. She continued her education at Southwestern – now known as Rhodes College – where she studied English.
Marilyn admittedly “had a ball” while attending Southwestern. She was President of Kappa Delta sororiety, she was Homecoming Queen, she was on the Beauty Court for three years (an honor she chuckles at now) and she was even voted the April Fool’s Queen – no joke! But she also had her eye on a young man who went by the name, Red.
Milton Leroy “Red” Wray was born in Jackson, Mississippi on February 2, 1926. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and became a pilot. After his time was served, he decided to go back to school. With the Millington Naval Base close by, he just happened to land in Memphis attending Southwestern.
Red was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and Marilyn had seen him on campus and at parties. He was six years older than she, but that didn’t stop Marilyn from holing up at the library when she knew he would be there. It was during a school basketball game where Red spotted her and asked if he could give her a ride home. Marilyn accepted and when he dropped her off, he asked her for a date. Once again, she said yes.
The two continued to date, even after Red went to get his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He traveled back and forth, they wrote letters and became engaged. He returned to Memphis just three days before their wedding on February 20, 1954. Marilyn graduated from Southwestern that same year.
March 1, 1954, Red started work at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company in accounting with tax day being March 15th at the time. The following fall, Marilyn took her first job as a sixth grade teacher at Sherwood Elementary, shaping the minds of 39 students in her classroom. She had no idea that teaching was to become her passion. She remained two years and transferred to Presbyterian Day School for the next five. She got pregnant in 1960 when she decided to get her Masters in Education at Memphis State. Red had begun working on his CPA license.
In 1961, William Andrew Wray was born and Marilyn received her Masters. She became a stay at home mom and two-and-a-half years later came daughter, Lynda. The twelve years Marilyn took care of the children, she also taught Bible school, was a member of her church choir (which she did for 70 years), was the President of Maternal Welfare, was a member of Les Passees and was a charter member of Subsidian.
In 1973, the kids were older and Marilyn went back to teaching fifth grade, this time at ECS (Evangelical Christian School). The next year, she was asked to take the position of Principal of Elementary, to which she gladly accepted. She remained as such for 30 more years.
The family was very involved at Second Presbyterian Church, the kids played tennis, Red left the accounting firm to teach at University of Memphis, William and Lynda became valedictorian of their respective classes ’79 and ’82, and Red eventually opened his own firm. When he was asked his occupation, his reply was “I work for Marilyn and the kids”. He partially retired in 2000.
Marilyn retired in 2004 and was given a 2003 sage green Mercury Sable and a rocking chair from ECS. She drove the car for 12 years and still has the chair. In 2009, Marilyn moved to Kirby Pines. The Wrays had known Jimmy Latimer, Charlie Trammell and Rudy Herzke through church and family attending ECS, so they were already familiar with the community. Red passed away in August of 2016 after 62 years of marriage.
Marilyn still loves living at Kirby. She has been on the Advisory Board, was President of the Resident Association for two years, volunteers for numerous activities, is now president of the Ham-ateur Club and even works in the Blossom Shop. She has made many great friends over the years and is always taken aback when she drives in and through the beautiful Kirby campus.
Marilyn is simply a pleasure to be around. Her favorite verse from the Bible sums up her life beautifully; 3 John 1:4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.