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Affectionately known as “Tootsie”, “Sugar Ray”, “A. Ray” and “Alveen”, Alvin Ray transitioned from his earthly vessel to his heavenly home in glory in the comfort of his home with his ever-loving family by his side. Alvin had been in declining health for a number of years, and recently was in the comforting care of Hospice of the Mahoning Valley.
Alvin has earned his two wings not made by man’s hands, but God’s hands. His family takes comfort in knowing that, as the gates of heaven opened, Alvin was welcomed by his baby daughter, Kelley Michelle Ray Hill and a host of loved ones.
Alvin was born November 29, 1942 in Campbell, OH, the eldest child of Rosetta Young. Educated in the Youngstown Public Schools, he was a proud graduate of the East High School Class of 1961 – Once a Golden Bear, Always a Golden Bear, and now a Sleeping Bear! Upon graduation, his Uncle Leroy Jackson told him to get a job, or go into the service. Alvin enlisted in the U.S. Army, but was shortly honorably discharged.
His life journey then took him to New Jersey for a short time, where he met life-long friends in the family of Stella Bellamy Jones, including Melvin and Roberta Hyman, and Mary Lee and Sam Brooks. Alvin then married Shirley Gibson, and they had daughters Aretha Denise and Litha Evette.
Upon returning to Youngstown in the early 1970s, Alvin began his career in the health care field as a physical therapy technician and orderly at Youngstown Osteopathic Hospital. He retired in 2007 after 13 years as an STNA with Assumption Village Nursing Home, where he received the Spirit of the Mission Employee of the Month award. He was also a certified automotive mechanic and a member of SEIU-District 1199.
In 1975, Alvin met the love of his life, and his soul mate – Francine Ruth. They married on June 14, 1980 and were blessed with daughters Katrina Jeanine and Kelley Michelle.
Alvin enjoyed interior and exterior house painting and he painted his first home inside and out. After accidently spilling a tray of paint on royal blue carpet, his late cousin Willie George Wright said the spill looked artistic and began calling Alvin “Picasso”.
With an old school heart and a young man’s spirit, Alvin was a Tenor who loved to sing and dance! He often spoke of the fun he and his friends, Jerry, Phil and others, had singing doo-wop songs on the corner until the street lights came on.
He could also swim like a fish in the sea, and dive like Mike Phelps in the Olympics – all while he was in the pool at Lincoln Park!
After accepting Christ at age 12, Alvin was baptized at Elizabeth Baptist Church by the late Rev. Lonnie Simon. The church honored him with a plaque in 2017 for 63 years of service. Over the years, he served on the Usher Board, the Brotherhood Group, and the Male Chorus, where he was often the lead singer, under the direction of Mrs. Mary Sangster, Hump Jones, and Mrs. Edna Stevens, Clarence Hodges and others.
Alvin was the eldest son; a husband and soulmate; a father, grandfather and great-grandfather; a brother; an uncle; and, a dear friend of many years to Phillip Agee, his “brother from another mother,” Jerry Colvin, Deacon Edward Bell, Vernon Gilbert, Alfred Martin, and Delores Jones, his “sister from another mother”.
He leaves to cherish his beloved, precious memories and rejoice in his peace his wife of 42 years and dedicated caregiver, Francine; daughters Katrina and Aretha (who lovingly joined in caring for their father), and Litha; his mother Rosetta Young, who is 96 years young; brother Kenneth (Giovanni) Young of Chester, VA; sisters Ora “Cookie” Dothard of Youngstown; Linda Brown of Alexandria, LA; and Constance Sims of Cedar Hill, TX; six grandsons, Alvin Samuel Ray – who he helped rear, Tawana Hymes, Shawndale Ray, Marshall Talley, My’chal Reynolds, and Kayden Theodore Smith – who he helped rear; six great-granddaughters, and a great-grandson.
Alvin also leaves his mother-in-law, Mrs. Gloria Jean Armour; sisters-in-law Janet Baxter, Debra Lee, Sharon Ruth, and Pamela Williams; brother-in-law Johnny L. “Boonie” Williams; cousins and special caregivers, Stephanie Benson, Renee Spence, and Debra Lee; and a host of other family, friends and loved ones. The family also appreciates the care given Alvin by Cynthia
Zigler-Clark, Heather and the entire staff of Callos Home Care, as well the entire Special Staff of Hospice of Mahoning Valley.
Preceding Alvin in death were his baby daughter, Kelley Michelle Ray Hill on October 12, 2018; brothers Frank and Robert Young; grandmother Mittie Lockett - who helped raise him; uncles Leroy and Jesse Jackson; aunts Exie Hill, Lena Battles, Bea Vanderhorst, and Eva Smith; brothers-in-law William “Fats” Dothard, Johnny Sims, James Brown, David Baxter, James Lee, Sr., and Robert Ruth, III; and, father-in-law William H. Armour.
Alvin knew that death is inevitable. He believed that the true measure of mankind is how we spend our time, which is the dash in the middle between our birthday and the day God calls us home. Alvin understood that we all need someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. He asks that we not grieve as if we have no Hope, because we will see him and all of our loved ones again if we stay in the will of God!
And the God of all Grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10.
The family wishes to express heartfelt thanks to family, friends and all healing hands that took care of Alvin during his time of illness.