Ray was born in rural Pennsylvania and moved to Lompoc, California in 1969 where he graduated from high school. He attended college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management and Forestry in 1978. He later attended Humboldt State University in 1980 earning a certificate in Logging/Transportation Engineering and Economics. Ray and his wife Pat of 37 years have made Etna their home for the past 16 years and have raised three children.
Ray's professional career began in Mt. Shasta in 1976, and he has worked in two states on the West Coast and one on the East Coast prior to returning to Siskiyou County in 1998. Ray retired in 2010 as District Ranger on the Klamath National Forest after 33 years of federal service. Since retirement he has worked with the U.S. Congress on several Natural Resource bills, is an active member of SFAC (Sustainable Forest Action Coalition), Director of Water Yield Research in Sugar Creek with UC's Berkeley and Merced, is the Science Chair for the Elimination of Catastrophic Wildfire and teaches Forest Science courses at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.
Ray owns a Forest and Natural Resources Consulting Business, is a California Registered Professional Forester, a member of the California Professional Foresters Association, an Ag advisor for Etna High School and the College of the Siskiyous tech programs and is an author of multiple Forest Management and Fire Policies for NAFSR, the National Association of Forest Services Retirees.