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James Ray Porter

August 21, 1937 August 30, 2018
James Ray Porter
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Obituary for James Ray Porter

James Ray Porter, 81
DOT


Lakeland- James “Ray” Porter, went to be with his God on Thursday, August 30, 2018 at Lakeland Nursing & Rehab. His wife, Debra, and close family were at his side.
Ray was born in 1937, Barnesville, Georgia the son of James A. and Alice Porter. He grew up in Barnesville and graduated from the Gordon Military High School there in 1955.
He married Debra Parker on May 22, 1999, and the two had a very active life for nearly all their time together. They met on the racquetball courts at a club where Ray dominated play. Deb challenged him to some games, and they continued to play, rather competitively, for many years of their marriage. Ray loved all kinds of exercise and kept himself quite fit, riding bicycles and lifting weights. He was also an avid investigator of dietary supplements that allowed him to keep his personal health at a high level of performance.
He and Deb possess an enduring love of dogs, often sharing their home with as many as four German Shepherds, and taking them nearly everywhere they could find a dog beach or a place to run and chase tennis balls. Ray’s last personal dog, Nitro, survives him, as does Deb’s present dog, Isis Lavern.
Known as “Mr. Wonderful” by many friends and colleagues, Ray was a Project Manager at the Department of Transportation, District 1, in Bartow until his retirement in 2016 after 25 years of service. At the time of his retirement Ray was the oldest state employee in Florida. Notable accomplishments include the creation of a system still used for roadway design and reconstruction. Prior to the DOT, Ray had held many significant positions within the Building and Construction industries, running all the way back to earning his Industrial Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, 1961. Ray, a life-long lover of learning, also took courses at Florida Institute of Technology and the University of South Florida.
At Tech, Ray participated in multiple varsity sports, lettering in several including track, swimming, and the rifle team. He was also a member of Sigma Chi.
Since that time at Tech, Ray evolved a love of blues music and almost any kind of gadget that made the work of daily life easier. He enjoyed the chance to use logic to problem solve, knowing there was always a way to do things more effectively. He loved his Corvette, his computers, and eating barbecue at the Rib Crib, prepared by his friend Ellie. But perhaps as much as anything, Ray loved his work, especially the D.O.T. job that took him to the end of his career.
Ray is survived by his loving wife, Debra; his daughter, Tonya Faye Gandy and her partner, William Michael Newberry; granddaughter Jenna Rae Gandy; grandsons Andrew Keith Porter and William Jacob “Jake” Newberry; and one great-granddaughter, Zea Thelema Earing. Ray was predeceased by his twin sister, Alice Faye Porter, in 1973; and James Scott Porter, his son from a previous marriage.
Debra and the rest of Ray’s family would like to thank the Lakeland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Good Shepherd Hospice and the numerous friends that helped to make his final days comfortable. Memorial contributions may be made to support either the SPCA, the Good Shepherd Hospice, or the American Cancer Society.
A memorial service for Ray will be held at St. David’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, September 8, at 10:00 AM. A reception will follow at the church. Ray’s ashes will have their final resting place next to his parents and sister back in Barnesville.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.heathfuneralchapel.com.


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Previous Events

Service

Saturday

8

Sep

10:00 AM 9/8/2018 10:00:00 AM
St. David's Episcopal Church

145 East Edgewood Drive
Lakeland, Florida 33803

St. David's Episcopal Church
145 East Edgewood Drive Lakeland 33803 Florida
United States
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