James Edward Ray Inducted 1994 - Class of 1952
Many Polar Bears who pursue careers in education often return to the den at 600 East Streicher Street. Other alumni choose to share the talents cultivated at W.H.S. with other city schools. In Jim Ray's case, it was Bowsher High School in south Toledo.
Jim attended Woodward in the fabulous' 50s. He made his mark as a sophomore on the Woodward basketball team, where he made his court debut in a tournament game. As a junior and senior, he was a starter and one of the highest scorers on the team. Jim graduated from Woodward in 1952 and went on to play collegiate hoops.
Jim's basketball career took off at the University of Toledo. Over the course of his career at UT, he held 28 individual honors and set 28 individual UT basketball records.
As a college sophomore, he was a starting member of the university’s first Mid-American
Conference championship basketball team in the 1953-1954 season. With Jim's talent, the team went on to the NCAA tournament.
The following year, he was donned team captain. In 1956, Jim was the leading scorer in the MAC and ninth in the country. By the time he graduated that same year, he was named to the first team All-MAC and All-Ohio and third team Helms Foundation All-American. A star in the eyes of the popular press, Jim was selected Toledo Blade Amateur Athlete of the Year and Toledo Times Outstanding Athlete of the Year.
This superstar excelled off the court, too. Jim, the scholar, successfully earned a bachelor degree in education. Later, he graduated with a master's degree in his field.
During the summer of 1956, Jim was the fifth draft choice of the former NBA team, the Syracuse Nationals. He signed a contract with the Nationals and was later released. He returned to UT and was named freshman basketball coach.
Jim later served briefly in the army and taught school in the Los Angeles area. In 1961, he joined the Toledo Public School system as an orientation teacher and basketball coach at Libbey High School. The following year, he moved to the newly constructed Bowsher High School where he was named chairman of the orientation department and head coach of the school's first basketball team. His squads were always well coached. Sound fundamentals, team discipline, sharp defense, and love for the game were characteristics of the players Jim mentored.
After a short tenure as a teacher, Jim set his sights on the role of guidance counselor. His interest in and love for people shined in this position. Former students have said that his encouragement helped them realize their potential and reach their goals.
Jim's success and popularity led to a promotion to assistant principal/pupil personnel. Later, he was appointed administrative assistant in charge of curriculum and instruction. He also served for a short time as principal of Bowsher Junior High School. His strong leadership, love for students, and support from the south Toledo community helped him build Bowsher's outstanding reputation. Fellow colleagues remember Jim as "Bowsher's Biggest Booster." In 1982, Jim's life-long dream became a reality. He was promoted to principal of Bowsher High School. He was also instrumental in establishing an academic Hall of Fame at Bowsher. Bowsher now touts a scholarship program that was later named the Jim Ray Academic Hall of Fame in his honor. His five-year administration was marked with dedication, hard work, and the willingness to make tough decisions. His belief in staff and students helped them become the best they could be.
Jim's dream, however, was short lived. In 1987, the beloved Bowsher principal suffered a fatal heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and their three children.
Last year, Jim was honored with a posthumous induction into the Toledo City League Hall of Fame. Tonight, his alma mater would like to pay a similar tribute to this athlete, scholar, teacher, principal as he joins the ranks of prestigious graduates in the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.