Bernice Esther Ray, 88, was welcomed to her Heavenly Home by her Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday afternoon, December 3, 2017. The only child of Roy and Olga (Johnson) Gustafson, Bernice was born on June 22, 1929 in Stephenson, MI and learned to love and serve the Lord at an early age. She married Marvin John Ray at the Palestine Covenant Church on September 4, 1948 and was his loving wife for 69 years.
Bernice taught herself to play the piano and organ. At age 13, she started playing for church services and continued playing for church as well as weddings and funerals until she was 83 years old. She loved teaching Sunday School at Bark River Bible Church where she was a member. She faithfully wrote letters to many missionaries and servicemen, her Sunday School classes, and to people who were ill or lonely. She listened to children recite Bible verses in AWANA, served on lunch committees, and visited shut-ins. She was a woman of great faith and a strong prayer warrior.
Bernice and Marvin graciously welcomed their family, the community, and friends into their home, and enjoyed helping others. Bernice was well known for her wonderful cooking and baking. Her rye bread and cinnamon rolls were a special treat for anyone, but her family relished her potato sausage each Christmas and a few times in between. The Rays Feed Mill employees enjoyed her daily freshly baked bars and cookies until she was no longer able to make them.
She was active in civic events, Farm Bureau, and school activities. Bernice and Marvin enjoyed attending Bark River Bronco games, especially basketball. At home, Bernice loved to play board games, work on puzzles, and give special attention to each of the grandkids. They fondly remember notes from Grandma written on her old faithful manual typewriter.
Bernice and Marvin worked as a team throughout their marriage, first on the farm in Perronville, and then in establishing Rays Feed Mill in Bark River. In later years, they were able to travel extensively with friends, and they enjoyed seeing the beauty and uniqueness of God’s creation.
Everything Bernice did was in response to God’s love for her and in gratefulness for her salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross. Her greatest joy was serving Him.
Bernice is survived by her loving husband Marvin, her children Tom (Charlotte), Mark (Nancy), Ruth (Don) Ives, Rick (Michelle) all of Bark River, and Jim (Janice) of Green Bay and daughter-in-law Carole of Bark River; grandchildren Brian (Jodi) Ray, Michael Ray, Aaron Ray, Diana (David) Oman, Bethany (Andrew) Gearhart, Brittany (Steve) Dubord, Erin Ray, Rachelle (Derek) Olson, Samantha Ray, Bradley (Shelby) Ives, Michael Floyd, D.J. Malone; 15 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law Beverly Kallstrom; nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, and her oldest son Paul.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, December 7, 2017 from 4-6 p.m. EST at the Bark River Bible Church with the service at 6 p.m. EST and a lunch to follow.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the family for a memorial to be decided on later.
The Crawford Funeral Homes are assisting the family.