Vera Mae ‘Vimmie’ Ray

Vimmie passed on to be with God in Heaven Sunday, Aug. 4. Vimmie was born in Oakdale, Calif., Jan. 11, 1943, while her father, Powell Cates, served in the U.S. Navy, Pacific theater. Vimmie’s mother, Helen Cates, worked in the shipyards to aid the war effort. But, the family was from New Mexico and Vimmie was reared in Bernalillo and north Albuquerque. She graduated Valley High School, Albuquerque, in 1961 and was class historian.
It was in Albuquerque that she met Dick Ray and they began their life together with marriage Oct. 14, 1961. They lived and worked in Belen, N.M., until Aug. 5, 1970, when they moved to Chama, N.M., to lease and operate the Lobo Lodge and ranch. At that time, Vimmie was the pitcher for a Belen women’s softball team that had qualified to compete at the state finals. She missed that opportunity, but quite willingly began her new life in the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. She and Dick Ray purchased part of the Mitchel Swanson Ranch south of Pagosa Springs in 1973 and made that their primary residence, along with the Lobo Ranch. In 1983, Vimmie and Dick decided to create the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park on Highway 84, south of Pagosa Springs. Vimmie’s abiding love and respect for the wildlife, their natural history and the people who come to the Wildlife Park as well as the opportunity to provide them information and education will live on through her spiritual presence.
Vimmie’s work ethic, stamina, dependability and solid faith have been of value to all who knew her. One of her mottos was “I try to enjoy everything I do” and that even included hard physical work.
Vimmie is survived by, as she would say, all of the people still alive and who should be appreciative of that fact, as well as Dick Ray, husband; son Mike Ray (Gwen); daughter Lori Lucero (Sonny); adopted daughter Rene Herber (Kevin); and grandchildren Waylon (Koco), Kelsi, Dalton Lucero and Raesha Sell (Clint) and Reahna Ray.
Also, brothers Marvin and Joe Cates, sister Donna Meskimen and great grandchildren Lexy, Alexander and Jaxon Lucero, along with numerous nieces and nephews. Vimmie was proceeded in death by brothers Walter (Andy) and Ronnie Cates.
There are many more good people whom Vimmie touched through her life, and she will be remembered and missed. There will be a celebration of her life and sunrise service at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, Sunday, Aug. 11, beginning at 6:30 a.m. All are welcome.

This story was posted on August 8, 2019.