A native New Mexican, born 1935 in Gallup New Mexico, Sam was actively involved in civic and public service since 1969. His history includes Gallup City Treasurer 1969-70, Gallup Councilman 1970-73, and Mayor of Gallup 1973-75. Sam served on the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Municipal League, the Navajo Way Board of Directors, Executive Board of the Association of Commerce & Industry, and appointed to the CITA Board under Governor Jerry Apodaca. Sam served as Colonel Aide-de Camp under Governor Bruce King, Lt. Governor Roberto Mondragon, as well as Governor in charge Stephanie Gonzales and served as Ambassador to Congressman Harold Runnels. He was an honorary member of the “Mama Lucy Gang." Sam worked side by side with his Father, Tony Ray in the family business, Tony Ray’s Power Plants in Gallup New Mexico from 1955-1971 which included sales and service for Onan and Witte generators. During this time, Sam managed a territory covering six states along with the Zuni, Navajo, and Hopi and Apache reservations. In 1971 Sam became the owner of Ray’s Enterprise (formerly Tony Ray’s Power Plants) which continued to provide sales and service for generators, Honda motorcycles, and Polaris snowmobiles. He was also a veteran of the United States Army.
Beginning is 1973, while Mayor of Gallup, his passion for helping his community took him to Santa Fe to attend legislative and special sessions as a government relations lobbyist, achieving many goals, including the development of Red Rock State Park.
From 1977-1988 Sam worked as Forman and General Services Administrator and Lobbyist for Navajo Communications Company now Frontier Communications located in St. Michaels, Arizona.
As an outdoorsman as well as lobbyist, Sam was actively involved in working on the New Mexico Game and Fish Hunting Quota and Habitat Management legislation.
In 1988, Sam became the lead lobbyist for the New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group (NMECG) which is currently comprised of 10 rural telephone companies that provide voice and internet service to approximately 45,000 customers in rural areas of New Mexico. He lobbied the New Mexico State legislature as well as regulatory aspects with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Sam lead a successful lobbying team that is responsible for the passage and enactment into law, The Rural Telecommunications Act of 1999. This law provided reduced regulations and created the State Rural Universal Service Fund that assists with keeping telecommunications rates affordable for customers in rural New Mexico
Sam also lobbied to amend a section of the Telecommunications Access Act of New Mexico to clarify intrastate telephone services. He lobbied to amend a section of the Rural Telecommunications Act of New Mexico to update State Rural Universal Service Fund provisions and establish a broadband program administered by the Public Regulations Commission to facilitate expansion of broadband service to rural areas. Most recently, he worked on amending the State Rural Universal Service fund to create the rural broadband grant and cap the overall fund.
He continued to lobby for NMECG until his passing.
In his later years, Sam moved to San Acacia, NM where he enjoyed working on his farm with his pet deer, "Buddy." His biggest joys were hunting, camping, and spending time with his family. His favorite motto was “HE WHO RIDES THE TIGER DARE NOT DISMOUNT”
Sam was preceded in death by his parents, Tony Ray and Annie Grenko Ray and a brother, Frank Ray. He is survived by his children, Sam Ray, Jr. and Debbie of Farmington, NM; Tony Ray of Enumclaw, Washington and Matejka Santillanes and Jay of San Acacia, NM; grandchildren, John, Jason, Sheri, Lenae, Jessie and Tony; great-grandchildren, Dylan, Jordan, Braden and Colton.
Cremation has taken place and memorial services will be announced at a later date. Honorary pallbearers include Ivan Stearns, Joe Hausner, Manny Trujillo, Vince Montoya, Charlie Ferrell, Luke Otero, Ruben Minkus, Jerome Block, Tony Trujillo, Debbie Rodella, Valerie Espinosa, Regina Romero, Porfirio "Bear" Perez, Jr. and Ray and Mercedes Romero.
In lieu of flowers please donate to Autism Awareness at www.elevatethespectrum.org or by phone at 505-379-4624.
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